Classical at Burton 2020
Seleucid w/Maccabean Allies vs Palmyran
After a civilized evening and a legendary curry (which was sadly not partaken at the following high quality eating establishment) the second day of Burton hove into view, tipping it down as usual with endless car-wash quantities of rain
Aris is Cockney slang for Arse, as the phrase Bottle and Glass became rhyming slang for Arse. In time Bottle became Aristotle, later shortened just to Aris
Anita Harris is a well known British singer and TV personality of the 1960's and 70's, who appeared in Carry on Follow That Camel (1967) and Carry On Doctor (1968). These films represent the acme of mid 1970's British smuttiness, and of course led to another evolution from the cockney rhyming slang 'Aris in the form of the phrase, "what a great Anita Harris".
The most famous Royal Harris of recent years probably belongs to Pippa Middleton, younger sister of Kate, wife of the future monarch William. Pippas Harris has several twitter accounts, many of which are now inactive.
After surviving the evening succesfully and consuming the testbook full English Travelodge-style it was time for the top of the table clash agains a Palmyran army. The lists for the Seleucid w/Maccabean Allies and Palmyran 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.
Whats in a Palmyran Army then?
Palmyran looks like an army which is all about Cataphracts, but may in fact work best if considered as a Mid Roman army with better mounted options for shutting down or refusing parts of the table. A solid mix of decent foot suitable for rough and open terrain also makes over-cooking the Cataphracts probably something of a mistake.
The two armies, both historical enemies of the might of Rome and also both keen consumers of its military technology in the form of Imitation Legionaries and associated troops faced each other in Barkerese linear fashion across a largely open battlefield. The lines matched Cataphracts and Legionaries up against one another, and Pikes again faced off against the best Roman arms and men.
The Faces of Palmyra
Both armies racd forward, clear in the knowledge that they possessed sufficient width to ensure that this coming together of Empires would be decided by sinew, wood and steel in the face to face reality of fighting between men and their mounts. Within that clash however was still room perhaps for some subtlety - the Seleukids hastily shuffled their pack of cards, urging reluctant elephants towards the Palmyran Cataphract line whilst metal-clad caaphracts hastily took their place in line next to the Phalanx, ready to carve a path through the pseudo-legionaries recruited by the legendary Queen Zenobia in her travels across her desert empire.
Not all the troops on the table however were quite so keen to come to grips with their opponents.
Next to a mighty waterway which bisected the blasted desert plain the Palmyran Legionaries were doing amuch better imitation of cowardly dogs than proper Romans.
As if at a signal uttered by the dice of their great god Cowardly Dave the whole line of supposedly brave warriors turned tail and fled away from the imposing Seleucid advance
Luckily for students of conflict it was only Cowardly Dave's troops who were suffering from a short sharp dose of the cowardice, and the rest of the two battle forces continued in their brave and manly (other gender assignations are also available and no value judgement is implied or intended, especially given we are talking about an army led by a fierce warrior Queen here) advance towards one another, and towards their date with military destiny
Everywhere you looked apart from the bit of the table Cowardly Dave was responsible for you could see men and their mounts readying themselves for hand to hand action
Well, pretty much everywhere. But the well tanned Maccabeans were in both a quandry and in a field as they contemplated the unpleasant possibility of finding themselves outnumbered by even more than their own 4 Impact Medium Foot, in a vital close quarters battle in between the furrows and the carrot tops of the uneven terrain in which they had hoped to find some peace and safety
The various complex and delicately interwoven components of the Seleucid military machine had by now almost finished slotting into their allotted places in the worlds most fiendishly byzantine pre-Byzantine battle line. Pike, Cataphract, Elephant, Spear, Cataphract, Pike... all of the troop types with points values between 7 and 13 were on show and ready to go as the Palmyrans cunningly revelled in the fact they had managed to get their deplyment correct in the first place, unlike the cobbled-together and unrehearsed opponents arrayed before them at this critical moment in world history.
Posh clever people talk about Zenobia (audio only)
Suddenly, they are in!
Yes, both RO42 (Early, Mid or Late Imperial Roman: Catafractarii Super Heavy Cavalry) and the more 7th-edition-named MPA87 (Seleucid: Super Heavy Cavalry) were now facing one another across the shortest of distances as the two lines of metal smashed together in a bid to decide the outcome of the game, and with it the fate of two proud nation-states of the regions around modern day Jordan and Syria in an instant of dice rolling and equal factor combats between men and horses dressed up as baked bean storage equipment
And that same lurch towards combat was rippling along the line everywhere the two armies faced each other. The classic combats of the Western and partly Occidental military traditions of late Antiquity were being played out on a dramatic canvas (purchased from Tiny Wargames, although in retrospect I feel a little dirty for not simply giving all my money to Rafa) as the battle started in real ernest.
Whats in each command then?
This is the other 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 can work together, or join up with the Maccabeans if they are adjacent. With 4 LF the command has enough to screen both the Elephant and a decent number of the Pikes and Galatians, ensuring they get into combat fully intact as well as boosting the break point of the army as well. With 2 being Elite and 2 being javelin-armed the LF can also instigate a LF Lottery with some confidence in most circumstances
The Galatians are a little larder to control than the Argyaspids in the other large command, but the Brilliant General doesn't have any mounted troops to command so should have pips to keep them under control well enough. The lack of mounted and MF does mean this command is going to sit between the Maccabeans and another command more often than not, as it struggles to occupy the edge of the table (unless a WW is present of course)
Between all of the different components this command has a combat-capable frontage (against the right opponents) of an impressive 8 units, or 32cm out of the 150cm wide board
Well, certainly one old tradition was being played out in full.
The Seleucid army, so resolute in it's previous two battles had for some unfathomable reason chosen this precise moment to start rolling poor combat dice - and the Palmyrans duly obliged with a barrage of 5's and 6's of their own rendering the supposedly solid (but let's face it slightly out of alignment so perhaps they did deserve it a bit) frontage of Pikes, Argyaspids and Elephants into a hit marker collection zone so deeply carpeted in markers that there was barely room to fit them all on table.
This was a terrible start to the proceedings, and one which the Seleukids had walked straight into and instantly realised may well prove extremely difficult to claw their way out of.
The Seleucid Cataphracts were having a particularly torrid time against near-identical but shorter-speared foes in the very centre of the line of battle. Today the men of Antioch and their steel-clad steeds seemed unable to conjure up anything like the reserves of strength and aggression that they had displayed for much of the previous day, and instead fell like Jeff Koons-inspired ninepins to rattle aimlessly around in the ever-growing pile of casualties which was starting to clog up the sea on the Successors flank.
Potted Palmyran History
This was a morning when the Palmyrans certainly had gone for the Weetabix rather than the Full English, and where the Seleukids in reply were wondering why they appeared to be suffering from a spectacular inability to digest some bad dice.
The Successor leadership was convinced they had the right strategy as their army hammered relentlessly at the weakest-looking elements of their opponents, slamming Phalanx'es against yet more Cataphracts and hurling elephants into loose formation foot on the edge of the waterway. Even the Mediocre Camel Baggage Guards had found a viable target in the unusual form of the Palmyrans surprisingly resilient and unusually Ordinary Light Camels.
But even as these repeated hammer-blows against the forces of Cowardly Dave started to force back the enemy and festoon them with injury signifying markers the Seleukid commander could sense that elsewhere, in fact all along the rest of the frontage the game was starting to slip away from his men
In the far distance the haplpess Maccabees were overrun and cut down by a tidal wave of mock-Roman Auxilia, outnumbered and demoralised as at the same moment the supposedly solid line of Phalangites and Galatians started to fold like a pack of cards. The Palmyrans too were picking up losses, but at nothing like the rate needed to turn the tide in this increasingly one-way battle.
Confused and angry, the Seleucid commanders considered whether they should have perhaps picked up a book or two to read about the history of the Palmyran Empire before engaging them in a battle to the death.
Conveniently, a small bookstall had been set up nearby to provide for exactly such needs:
Ripped apart and unzipped by the total collapse and elimination of the cataphract forces supposedly holding it's centre, the Successors finally succumbed. Crushed in the middle, swept away on the left and unsuccesful on the right this was a chastening defeat for the men from Antioch
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
I'm not entirely sure what happened there, but whatever it was both me and my co-comander are fully convinced that it was totally down to the dice and not to do with anything in our list design or the way we approached the battle tactically or strategically
Yes, essentially that was just one of those things that occasionally happens, and to be honest it was better that it was short as to take a spanking like that over a sustained period of time would have started to get us deep into really unpleasant territory
Somehow in an equal matchup of Cataphract on Cataphract in the centre the dice gods turned against us, and after that we were unzipped.
Losing out in a war of attrittion against a smaller army on both flanks also seemed to be a smidge unfair but perhaps that means we are storing up some luck for next time?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
At last, an opponent who knew their plan and knew how to deal with your cack-handed lack of one yourselves. To claim that your over-confident, over complex stumblings in the middle were not the obvious cause of your ultimate downfall is laughable in the extreme and so your hubris and your incompetence combined here to deadly effect to leave you with your just desserts.
Your simple tactics in the first two games did cough up a succesful formula, of advancing in a line and letting the army deal with whatever it finds, did seem to work and it is perhaps no surprise that as soon as you try and deviate from this approach the wheels came off your charabang of success.
This then puts the top prize well out of your grasp, and also puts the pressure on for the next game in that it could see you placed in the podium spots or it could see you end the weekend with a half-hearted 50-50 win-lose ratio
Let's see what happens and if you can hold back your desires to be clever and use your stupidity properly in the next, and final game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition