Classical at Burton 2020
Seleucid w/Maccabean Allies vs African Vandal
With the first test of the army succesfully navigated against a solid Roman force who's hard, resilient outer crust had finally cracked under the repeated blows of our Cataphracts to reveal the jelly-like interior inside it was time to escape down the road to the Coopers for some lunch.
Yes, in yet another brutally crowbarred and obvious literary simile our lunch was, like our first round opponents, also a hard-crusted opponent with a remarkably similar jelly-covered internal constituency as well - the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie.
Pork Pie Heaven
Accompanying the pie was of course a couple of pints of the gravity-poured draught Bass from the Coopers Tavern, a pub which has been a staple of the Burton Wargames Weeekend for the last two decades,
Back in the mists of time when we first stumbled upon it the Coopers was a tiny backstreet anachronism in a world of corporate lager run by a husband and wife team seemingly transplanted from somewhere in Middle Earth to be enchained in the worlds smallest pub for all eternity, then more latterly became a surprisingly hipsterish real ale hotspot in which ownership of facial hair threatened to become a mandatory precondition for entry.
Now, thankfully the excesses of hipsterism have somewhat worn off and the Coopers is again settling down to being a proper old school boozer
But, enough of that - on with the business! The second, post lunch, post-pint part of the weekend of 4 games was immediately upon us with a battle against thoe legendary opponents Nik and Dave, with literally everyone around the table doing the Dave Handley Stance in a long lost homage to Half Man Half Biscuit's very similar but derivative parody of a long lost snooker referee of days gone by.
Doing the Len Ganley Stance
Nik and Dave had been clever - perhaps too clever - and brought an elite-cavalry heavy African Vandal army along to this Pike-fight, presumably hoping to emulate several of the games from my recent outing in Plymouth with the Gepids?
The lists for the Seleucid w/Maccabean Allies and African Vandal 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.
What's This Army Like then?
African Vandal is probably the best of the charging impetuous barbarian cavalry armies, with several unique (or near-unique) features:
Mindful of the risk of our flanks being overrun by hordes of screaming cavalry lancers, the Seleucids had tossed down a huge amount of terrain, even picking to defend in Mountains as part of the battle plan. This ended with mixed success, with nothing really in the middle part of the table other than an impassable pond on the Seleucid left - however with forests and yet more damp rough patches in fairly decent places the Successors were by no means fighting on a bald open plain.
The Vandals very much were leading with their right hook, as a wall of indeterminate cavalry raced across the field towards...erm, half a dozen Maccabeans hiding in a wood and sniggering gently to themselves.
The Vandals had also chosen to not deploy one command. In theory it might have been hiding behind a mountain in the middle of the Vandal's deployment zone, but all four of the players around the table knew that a flank march was far more likely - the only question was which side might it be on?
think it's going to be on your right"
Either way this did little to change the Successor's plans - with their left flank seemingly secured by the Maccabeans in the terrain the opportunity to push forward was on the left and in the centre
The Vandals had, perhaps surprisingly, or perhaps due to lack of sufficient dismounts, fear of the 4 Cataphracts, or even a misunderstanding about whether the riders might have to carry the horses should they choose to fight on foot due to the lack of dismount horseholder bases in ADLG compared to previous DBx-derived sets, had also declined to dismount any of their cavalry.
This meant that as the Seleucids steamed forward in a series of parallel lines the mounted Vandals simply sat and waited, feeding their horses and watering themselves copiously with Doom Bar and other historic Vandal libations.
Soon the two lines of troops were getting closer to one another - especially on the left end of the main Seleucid line where yet again the fanatic and de-robed Galatians were eager for trouser-looting opportunities against the famously striped-trouser-wearing Vandal warriors. Both sides fenced delicately, with the Successor Mediocre elephant provising a potent yet fundamentally flawed shield for the end of their line which the horse-borne Vandals were reluctant to approach too closely.
On the opposite flank, seemingly already committed to a strategy of engaging the enemy before the flank march turned up, the Successors were racing forward with their other crappy Elephant, pushing away the Vandals screen of light horsemen whilst also cursing the idiot designer of this list for failing to include at least one unit of bowmen in each of the big infantry commands for exactly situations such as these.
Instead of proper archery the Seleukids were forced to rely on the pinprick attacks of their skirmishing light foot slingers and javelineers to inflict irritaing and retreat-inducing wounds on the colourfully-shielded and supposedly Moorish pair of horsemen delaying their army's advance
Quite where the two Mediocre camel bowmen were at this point in time who knows, as they'd have been really useful right here right now as well
The Galatians, lacking as they did in trousers and other garments, had no pockets in which to keep a folded copy of the QR sheet for ADLG, but fortunately for them the crew of the elephant had not only a QR sheet, but also a complete set of the rules in a special compartment built into their howdah.
Quickly flicking through the relevant sections the bow-armed (but non-shooting in ADLG) howdah crew spotted that Pikemen were far better against Impetuous enemy Cavalry than the Galatians, and shouted out a warning.
The Galatians, chastened, held back as the Phalanx moved up and slid gently in front of them to confont the Vandal mounted horde.
Combining with the Cataphracts, the Phalanx inched forward and caught the Vandals in some disarray as they attempted to execute some sort of overly-complex counter-march type reshuffle of formation.
Or something else, maybe. It might have been the beer.
With some of their number doomed to charge alone and unspoorted the Vandals took the path of most bravery and launched a half-cocked and unenthusiastic partially supported assault on the Cataphracts, sacrificing one of their number against the Phalanx to cull an overlap from the Vandal horseman unit fighting the cataphracts
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Impetuous Cavalry are not forced to charge Steady Heavy Foot - but Cataphracts, and indeed other cavalry in range do trigger a forced charge.
With the Crappy Elephant seemingly AWOL in the same place as those two Mediocre camels on the opposite flank, the Vandals found themselves with a chance to slam into the end of the line of Galatians - which they grabbed eagerly with both hands, before recoiling in horror after realising exactly what the Galatians had on display to offer anyone looking to grab at them with both hands.
On the opposite flank the Mediocre Camel Bowmen had mysteriously reappeared (possibly after the first really decent command and control pip roll now I think about it), and were now combining as planned with the Elephant and skirmish screen in a rather crappy quality yet frightening to LH steamroller, pushing the Vandal left wing back inexorably towards their horsemen who sat, befuddled in a miasma of real ale fumes which totally obscured their view of the onrushing wall of Seleukid forces.
By now the Galatians had finally accepted that their protective elephant mush have been cut down by sustained enemy skirmisher shooting and that now they were entirely on their own and tasked with protecting the flank of the Phalanx - a job the slow-moving and unmaneuverable blocks of barbarian infantry were singularly ill equipped to undertake.
The Smurf-hatted Pikemen also realised how out of their depth their newly-minted flank protectors were, and rushed forward to try and get engaged with the Vandal horsemen before they got rolled up in the debris of the likely demise of the Galatians to their left.
The Galatians were designed to go through and over enemy infantry, but their dense formations gave them at least some resilience to the assaults of the Afro-gothic nobility bearing down on them at some speed.
Marshalling a furious rearguard action, the Successor commander rallied the Galatians and urged them to turn to face the imminent and horse-borne threat from their left.
This was a desparate struggle which held the fate of the mighty Phalanx in its slightly sweaty and grubby hands
The opposite flank was rather a different story, with a solid and tidy line of Seleucid troops advancing coherently against an opposition who had seemingly little choice but to retreat back towards the Great Doom Bar Bottle monument, at who's glassy feet they had been worshipping regularly all afternoon.
Crossing the near-obligatory transverse road marked another milestone on the Seleucids inexorable advance towards a touchdown on the Vandal base edge, pinning the enemy cavalry into an ever-smaller corner as they sought refuge from certain defeat.
Whats in each command then?
This is one of the two "infantry" commands in the army, both led by Brilliant Generals and designed to cover a large frontage with decent combat-capable troops. The Elephant, Spearman and 3 LF operate as a formation working together and can go into rough terrain as well - sometimes supported by the Argyaspids, whos loss of cohesion is offset by their Armour and Impact capabilities to some degree. The Camels will hang back and then move out to a (rapidly closing, as the rest of the command drifts to the edge of the table) flank to close the door on any enemy horsemen hoping to sneak past
Between all of the different components this command has a combat-capable frontage (against the right opponents) of an impressive 10 units, or 40cm out of the 150cm wide board
A bowman or two would have been nice, but the camels can shoot so not all is lost on that front anyway.
As the fastest moving elements of the Seleucid army swept forward to try and pin the retreating Vandals in place, things started to get a little blurry - possibly down to the incredible speed across the ground of the long-legged Museum Miniatures camels, perhaps because of the ground-shaking effect of the heavy footfalls of the elephants as they lumbered forward, or, more likely still, the aggregate impact of repeated applications of Doom Bar to the combatants on both sides of the table.
Doom Bar in t'North
Just as the Vandal forces on the Successor right were being squeezed ever-harder into a tiny space whilst drinking themselves largely senseless on the contents of the baggage train, the Vandal horsemen on the Successor left had been battering themselves senseleless against the largely unyielding wall of the Galatian and, more latterly, the Phalanx
Without the quick breakthrough they craved, the Vandal Nobility had gotten bogged down in a grinding close quarters stabbing match, and as such their worse factors and lack of cohesion hits was really coming home to roost as their numbers ebbed away
The Seleukids had also taken a decent amount of damage, but they looked well set to command the battlefield when the final reckoning was done.
Finally, just a few hundred moments too late and on entirely the wrong flank to have any impact on the game, the Vandal flank march arrived!
As the outflanking force turned up, the last remnants of the Vandal right wing finally expired, after failing abjectly to overrun the stoic wall of resistance that was the Successor Phalanx
The Vandals next to their own baggage camp had also now run out of road, and of beer. They expired in a gust of alcoholic belching, never to be seen again
This left the Vandal baggage entirely at the mercy of the Seleucid forces, who rushed forward eager to collect the empties all the while hoping frantically that a glass bottle deposit scheme existed in 8th century North Africa, the like of which may in this situation make them richer than Croeseus!
The vandals expired, barely surviving long enough to see their own flank march arrive impotently. The result is a win for Seleucia!
Click here for the report of the next couple of games 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
Mwaha! We "vandalized" this enemy good and proper with a spectacular display of proper attacking and a deployment that wrongfooted the enemy even though they have lots more feet than we do due to all of their horse based things with additional legs.
Personally I would have flank marched in this game as well, but undoubtably on the opposite flank but anyway for whatever reason something in our deplyment and tacxtics doubvle-bluffed ouor opponents into sending part of their army on a wild goose chase, and then the sheer imposing excellence of our army meant the troops on the long march were too scared to come on until the game was almost lost
Two wins in the first day of the event is a great return and further validates the genius of list design that we so lovingly and respectfully ripped off entirely from other people.
Necessity is the mother of invention, but plagarism is much easier and cheaper, and in this case wildly effective.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You pair of smug and incompetent charlatans - if you can't realise that Draught Bass and Doom Bar had far more to do with your victory here than anything you cooked up yourselves.
Really, finding an opponent who sits in place waiting for a flank march on the other side of the table whilst you trundle unimaginatively towards them is a gift even greater than finding a pub with pork pies so big the Mongols could probably carve a hole in the crust, hollow out the jelley and pork and make it into a pastry yurt.
Here the Vandals should have just done a mass-dismount and charged you as Elite Impact Swordsmen - that would have had more chance of beating you than the over complicated effort they tried here. But then again, putting on a shadow puppet show to distract you whilst trying to move all of your units to the off-table dead pile would have been more effective than the plan your opponents tried here.
You have been lucky with deplyment, and lucky with lunchtime libations so far. Lets see how the post-curry, post breakfast next game pans out.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition