Classical at Burton 2020
Seleucid w/Maccabean Allies vs Triumverate Roman
After a series of sporadic appearances in the annals of Madaxeman history, 2020 saw a return to the legendary venue of Burton skillfully timed with Burton's own return to the Legendary Town Hall venue for what was due to be the 25th anniversary edition of the Burton Doubles.
Together with The Boy Worsdale an epic team of Classical era warriors was hastily assembled using the time-honouored combination of 'I have some newly tarted up pikemen so I'd like to use them' together with 'my brain hurts, I'm too busy so perhaps there's a list on the ADLG Wiki we can steal and bump up to the unusual total of 325 points?'
The end result was a Seleucid mash-up combining two of the lists I'd faced a year or so earlier at a competition in Pamplona, one from Massimilliano and one from Rafa Tortosa - so, unless I'd managed to do something dreadful there should at least be a half-decent list in there somewhere.
The end result was Seleucid with Maccabean Allies, and after a long trek cross country and an even more frightening Friday night around the dimly lit backstreets of Burton looking for a pub with Sky Sports to watch Derby vs Fulham (1:1 final score, Mitro equalizer) the Seleucid generals stopped off for a welcome meal at the well-named local restaurant to prepare for the next day of combat.
After a heartly Travelodge breakfast the morning started with a textbook Pikes vs Legions matchup with the Triumverate Romans facing us across the board. Both lists from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Burton can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Seleucid is very much the Rolls Royce of Successor armies, with a full suite of high quality options all of which come with a price tage to match. This variant however was based on a list used repeatedly by Rafa Tortosa, which somehow managed to max out on numbers whilst maintaining decent quality all along the line. The addition of a numerous yet cheap (included allied general...) Maccabean Jewish command of allied infantry gave it some well-needed rough terrain poke whilst deepening the resilience even further by pushing the whole shebang up to 39 Units, with a credible fighting frontage of 26 units.
The scouting forces of both armies had clearly been more intent on sightseeing and making the most of the glorious mid-February English weather than actually finding a wide flat plain for the battle to take place upon, and so large parts of the Seleucid deployment area were liberally festooned with hills, plantations and rough ground leaving the Romans with only one woodland to anchor themselves upon.
As the men of both armies stumbled bleary-eyed out of their beer-soaked tents ready for a day's hard combat the Romans stared wide-eyed in surprise as they began to suspect that they may have been practicing deplyment on a standard 200AP 120x80cm cloth rather than the somewhat wider 150x100cm one on which this particular game was taking place.
Either that or this photo got taken before they'd dished out their 4th command.
Neither of the two classical behemoths facing each other today were built for speed and dancing, so in a stately fashion the historically paired armies took measured paces across the battle at and closed for some imminent hand to hand combat. As well as Pikes vs Legions it seemed we would see Legions vs Cataphracts, and the slightly less exciting Mediocre Camels vs Medium Infantry in something that looked a bit like a bog but which was appearing here as a spot of rough ground.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Any of you who are offended in any way by this sort of flagrant terrain-morphing have clearly never been to Burton in January. There's not a dry square foot to be found in the whole town.
Ensconsced on a hilltop the Maccabeans were in their own personal happy place - out in the sunshine, close to the sun and topping up their already impressive tans as they jeered and threw insults at the milling hordes of inconsequential Numidian skirmishers below them
Luckily the Numidians in the valley were pretty much all Light Foot, and today were being represented by the still decidedly African tribal looking biblical-era Libyans.
This had a double benefit to the Maccabeans - firstly as Impact Foot Uphill they were already confident of holding this flank forever, but more importantly as Forged in Battle Numidian figures themselves they had avoided a particularly embarassing face-off against themselves !
The Seleukids attempted to hold back a rather unsporting snigger as in an unimpressive reveal it turned out that the Romans had indeed managed to fill that large gap in their deplyment, with a line of the textbook slightly underwhelming sub-par Roman cavalry
This was great news in theory for the Seleukid Cataphracts who seriously outgunned (and out-armoured, and out qualitied) the Roman horsemen, but as they clambered forward in eager anticipation the excitement seemed to be getting the better of the metal-clad men and they stumbled over one another haphazardly, failing to present a coherent 4-wide frontage to the opposing soldiery
With the Maccabeans now fully lathered in tanning oils they decided it was time to come down from their historically accurate mountain fastness and join in the end of the Seleucid line as all along the frontage of the two armies close combat approached at speed.
On the Maccabean's flank the Seleukid pike Phalanx was wrapped lovingly around a line of partially clothed naked fanatics from the Galatian plains (or hills?) who were totally eager to get to grips with the Roman Legions facing them as they sought either a glorious death in the pay of their Greek Successor overlords, or perhaps an opportunity to pick up some second hand, mostly red-dyed clothing from the bodies of their slain opponents - the latter probably being much the more urgent need on what was a rather parky East Midlands morning.
In a trice (well, by photo #6 anyway) battle was joined as either the Selucids urged forward their Cataphracts to get stuck into the Roman cavalry who then unsportingly evaded, or the Roman infantry realised they needed to step in and intervene as the Selukids fully armoured horseman formations chased the thin ablative shield provided to the Roman flanks by their horse away at some speed. Things were about to start to get serious all along the line.
Whats in each command then?
This is one of the two "simple" commands in the army, designed to sit most likely between the two big infantry blocks and throw out the LH as a delaying screen, but also capable of operating on a flank if needed, again using the LF as outriders, supported in that case by the Mediocre MCv who despite being a bit rubbish is more than capable of helping 2 Scythians drive off the enemy's (probable) 2 LH facing them. When operating in the middle of the line, the MCv functions as a last-ditch backstop instead.
Either way it won't do much more than plod forward and take on anything it meets in period, so having an integral Ordinary General is a net gain - the +1 in combat more than offsets the risk of losing an additional 1 EE break point if he is killed during the battle.
It would have been great to have all 4 Cataphracts as Elite, but something had to give on the points.
A Mexican-Greek-Syrian-Roman-Mexican-Again wave of charges suddenly rippled along the entire battlefront, bringing the two armies crashing together in a symphony of ritualistic and yet also very real close quarters combat.
Pikemen slammed against Legions, Testudo's of mock-Romans braved barrages of pilae (maybe.. hopefully thats not something too smutty?) as they aced to closed the gap and get to sword ranges against their real-Legion foes. In the damp undergrowth even the Successor's baggage guards were being pressed into action to shore up the end of the Selelucid line against swarms of tricksy Thracian mercenaries lurking in the bushes and amongst the long grass that edged the table and the world
Well, at least they did on one edge of the world. On the opposite flank the highly melatonined Maccabeans were barely facing any opposition of note at all as the Numidians opposite them melted away in the face of a stern stare and a sub-vocalised "boo". The game would not be decided here.
Tourist Attractions in Burton (1 minute video)
The mercenary Thracians, now rarely-seen models from Chariot rather than the near-ubiquitous Xystons or FiB types who in turn have largely supplanted Essex in the past decade (but I digress...) had raced ahead of their Legions in their eagerness to get to grips with the supposedly mediocre Camel-mounted baggage guards, but in so doing had rashly exposed a possible flank to the testudo-wearing Imitation Legionaries of the Seleukid infantry line.
The proper Roman legions were now in a race against time, as they sought frantically to carve their way through the Successor lines and draw the reserve testudo into frontal combat before it could turn and start to roll up the over-committed Thracians
The proper Romans had given it their all, but the resilience of the testudo (yeah, it has no effect on the game I know, but its a really cool couple of resin models so they have to feature in the narrative don't they?) saw the Argyaspids survive by the skin of their badly maintained and garlic-infused Imitation Roman teeth,
The first-line testudo picked up a hit, but didn't shatter and so now it had done it's job buying time and space for the Successors to turn their second testudo and combine it an Elephant attack to smash into the end of the Thracian battle line.
With even more rarely spotted Peter Pig Theurophoroi joining in as well, and the enormous but suprisingly resilient Camel Baggage Guards from Museum's biblical ranges still also hanging on the Seleukids had weathered the initial storm and were now positioning themselves for a run back to a safer port
You could tell things were getting really serious as even the Textbook Sub-par Roman Cavalry (TSPRC) had been forced back into the line of scrimmage, supporting the other end of the extensive Legionary line which would have stretched unbroken all the way from the Thracians to the other side of the board if it hadn't been for that huge great hole in the centre of it stuffed full of Seleucid Cataphracts.
Everything was committed and locked in place apart from the tripod for the digital camera unfortunately
What the Seleucid army lacked in quality it sure made up for in width, and as the Maccabeans basked yet again in the sporadic limelight that comes from being under the sole command of the doubles player who isn't writing up these reports and who doesn't therefore control the camera the Successors pushed forward past the end of the Roman line.
The Galatians may have been lying somewhat about their fanatical eagerness to get into combat whilst acting as mercenaries rather than in an army defending their homeland however (having now worked in that rather laboured reference) their pants were not so much on fire but actually missing entirely as they charged into the line of Legions facing them, supported by the Phalanx on both sides to initiate a spectacularly cinematic conflagration of combat
Losses were starting to mount on both sides as the combat raged on - although the Romans hit markers were quite literally mounted as well as mounting, with Death on Horseback denoting 2 hits each time he stood behind a unit of the now somewhat flustered and battle-worn Thracians.
The end of the beginning appeared to be nigh as the sun rose over the yardarm and players across the Town Hall contemplated their first beers of the day.
Having driven off the TSPRC - or more precisely, pile-driven them into the ground under their steel-shod hooves - the Successor Cataphracts were now beginning to cause mayhem as they starburst slowly into 2 sections, one continuing to push forward against any mounted foolish enough to stand in their way and the others turning around and rolling up the flank of the Legions to support their pikemen. On the left flank the Phalanx were too seemingly starting to gain an upper hand over the pilum-holding pedestrians from the banks of the Tiber.
The Galatians would be sleeping in pyjamas tonight for sure, as they rampaged through the once-solid line of Legionaries like turbo-powered nudist bowling balls hurled by an orangutang through a display of particiularly delecate but historically anachronistic and inappropriate cake stands. Basically it was a mess, and the Legions were not going to be the ones sweeping up afterwards this time around.
Blunt history of the Triumverate
Everywhere you looked across the battlefield the Romans were being overrun, outnumbered and surrounded by the sheer numbers of the Seleucid force.
The last of the Thracians hastily scribbled his ideas for a screenplay of his own life potentially starring Daniel Day Lewis down on his tunic as his unit fought unsuccesfully for survival in the face of camels, elephants and a whole dammed menagerie of different types of light foot as well.
Death stalked the land on a skeletal horse as the Triumverate forces slipped ever closer to defeat and the Successors started to enter the mopping-up phase of the battle.
The sun-kissed Maccabeans had achieved their task as well, holding up one end of the line aganst hordes of ineffective but numerous actual faux-Numidians to buy time and space for the heavyweight combat troops of the Seleucid army to do their butchers work.
Soon there was naught left but Death (pedestrian and mounted version) and Ghosts (3 hit markers) left on the Roman side of the line of decision
As the Triumverate slipped to defeat the forces of Antioch started to gain in confidence, happy that their strategy of stealing a list design from two people far cleverer than either of the two Successor commanders, and adopting a plan that involved forming a line and advancing had in fact seemed to work out OK so far.
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 Seleucid w/Maccabean Allies Commander
Yes! This is it, the start of a weekend of uninterrupted success and genius battle management from myself and my alter-ego who between us controlled and designed this astonishingly large and effective army. And I'm sure there will be Pork Pies in the near future as well, so all is good in the Successor Empire world right now.
This battle was one where we were admittedly learning the many sophisticated ways in which this army we have skillfully created and assembled can be utilized - but the most effective appears to be lining up and advancing forward in a solid line and fighting whatever is in front of us, which is nice to know this early in the weekend
With luck we will have an opportunity to try out some more innovative tactics in the subsequent games, fully using the flexibility and multiple attack vectors this great army can bring to the groaining-with-lead table.
As we sit here now it is difficult to see what could possibly go wrong with this plan
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You beer-fuddled, carbohydrate infused incompetent pair of muppets of the highest order! If Fulham feel that at this dog-end of the season a point away at an underperforming celebrity fuelled Derby County is a sufficiently decent result to maintain a promotion push I'm sure by comparison you too look at yourselves with hope and expectation, but in the real world Leeds and WBA are away and over the hills and you too will find bad news I'm sure lurking on your climb towards the summit
In this game your lack of planning and failure to even deploy the army before the competition was remedied by the fact that at least you'd actually seen something like it before in your games where it usually beat you - but I fear that your opponents failed to do the same research and were rather surprised to find that a mere handful of Elite Legionaries were not enough to match your excessive frontage
The expedient of leaving your Maccabean ally hiding in a wood, and the fact someone chose to deploy an equally toothless and skirmish-led command against them failed to expose the inherent weakness in this undercooked flank-guarding force as well, so yet again luck offset your stupidity here too.
Anyway, I must be away for a lunchtime pint. I doubt that your lack of vision and inspiration will be improved by whatever you imbibe, but you may as well get tanked up in case it makes the inevitable beating you will get in the next game a little easier to endure!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition