Ancients in Burton Doubles 2016
Triumverate Roman & Jewish vs Armenian & Roman
A Saturday night of curry, beer, beer and a reasonably early bedtime underlined how much older we'd all become in the many years since the infamous "Burton Slapper" evenings from Burton weekends going back as far as - yoiks! - 15 years.
This time we'd even been to an Indian restaurant without a drinks license, meaning many short trips next door to the Coopers (which appeared to have become the closest thing to a Hipster pub that Burton could muster in recent years). The evening had started in a microbrew pub themed on Lord of the Rings in a rather odd coincidence that linked Burton with < a href="sevilla_2006_1.php">Seville, but this time in a far more halfhearted fashion.
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Our opponents were using an army we had been tempted with - Armenian and Roman - and in fact the double-real-ally adoption of Armenians and Parthians sort of meant that we had chosen it anyway, but had disguised it. . The lists for the Triumverate Roman & Jewish and Armenian & Roman from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Burton Doubles can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Armenian army is an obvious mix of Cataphracts and Light Horse, with surprisingly few Elite Cataphracts in the mix. Going for the Tigranese option brings Imitation Legions into the mix, but also adds some compulsory Javelinmen, who can attempt to occupy terrain and then be beaten up by enemy with real weapons.
The table had a nicely placed plantation in the middle of the opposition deployment area which was beckoning any Auxilia in the slightly-later-than-ours Roman army to sit in it. Fields on the flanks were unlikely to have too much impact with the plantation-magnet sucking troops into the middle so essentially the rest of the table was bare. The enemy did deploy with infantry in the centre, Cataphracts on their right / our left and charging cavalry on their right / our left. In opposition we had the rough terrain commands split across both flanks, and a Legion/Cataphract combo on either side of the central wood - which our plan was not to attack
What's Going on Here Then?
The Romans and Judeans have split their forces symetrically on either side of the plantation, refusing the option to stuff a command of Thracians into it in fear of facing better quality, and Impact-capable Roman Auxilia. The enemy Romans are set up ready to receive any assault, with a strong line of infantry and Cataphracts running across the middle of the table, anchored on the unassailable woodland in the middle. With the Roman-Judean army essentially refusing the centre they do have the advantage of greater width on the left, and better quality troops on the right flank.
Keen not to give the enemy time to bring their Auxilia out of the wood and create two internal flanks for our split army, our army raced forward. The Gladiators advanced confidently on our left, optimistic that the presence of the one Inferior elephant would protect them from the enemy horsemen revving up on that flank.
The proper legions in their red uniforms were both living the cliche Roman dream, stuffed with pasta (having missed the curry) and most importantly highly confident after their last game beat-up of the Chinese army and marched forward towards the woodland, drifting to the right as they advanced .
By the time they got close to the enemy their drifting had almost entirely cleared the woodlands which placed the Legions firmly opposite the solid mass of Armenian Cataphracts shining and sweating in the early Sunday morning sunshine on that flank, as well as a handful of later Legions who were in the open. Next to them a block of Cataphracts were even keener to get engaged.
On the other side of the plantation, Armenian LH were screening off the rest of the enemy Legions as their Cataphracts zeroed in on the more lightly armoured Roman cavalry. The Romans were better at impact, but the Armenians were hoping that their heavier armour would help them last against the more numerous enemy whilst the Gladiators and Thracians chewed up the flank of the enemy army. The enemy line also had a weak spot in the middle, with 3 files of bowmen and artillery anchored between the Cataphracts and cavalry.
But to chew them up, they would need first to catch them. The enemy LH had achieved nothing from shooting and so decided that it was time to get outta dodge before an elephant collided with them and ruined their day - whilst this saved the LH from pain, it did have the rather unfortunate effect of exposing the Roman cavalry to the threat of the elephant.
With the prospect of an elephant outflanking them, the Roman lancers decided that charging in early was better than waiting around, and with a sidestep of a base width then rolled forwards into the weakest and least anti-cavalry element in the entire formation, an Average Thracians. Having read the rules on the benefits of flank contact the Roman bowmen also stepped up and looked to combine their LH to focus their shooting on some of the Thracians who had been left behind - leaving something of a gap between them and their cataphracts in the process
The battle raged whilst a slightly wider angle shot shows how a lone Thracian has been sent on a bit of a mission out to the real edge of the world - the idea being to get in the odd double move when pips are going spare, and end up behind the enemy LH to start to prevent them evading and returning.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Romans and Judeans have advanced quickly on both wings and are engaging the enemy in both places - although in some cases the rest of the army is still some way off combat. The opposition have maintained discipline and are bracing for an attack across the line. The Auxilia in the plantation have yet to emerge, being wary of the potential for a couple of units of Cataphracts or proper Legionaries to peel off from the main assault and take them on once they leave the safety of the woodland.
The other flank was just a mass advance from the Romano-Judeans, with Cataphracts zeroing in on Cataphracts and, beyond them on the flank, the other Thracian command racing towards a mixed bow and medium foot command which was resting against the river we had deployed on that flank. Both medium infantry had a safe flank, but the Thracians also had 2HCW.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - 2HCW is pretty cool. You get to ignore one level of armour when calculating combat outcomes, you add +1 to a winning score (except when you've already ignored armour) which means that you will cause an extra cohesion loss 50% of the time, and - amazingly - you win on a tie against enemy spearmen and pikes!
The Thracian's command had rolled the best pips and so was closest to starting the combat, but their charge against the solid enemy line would be closely followed by the Parthians, and then the Legions as well in a succession of huge impacts which we hoped would shatter the coherent formation of the enemy waiting for us in their well anchored formation.
The Thracian and Spear command hit its opponents as the two sets of Cataphracts stared each other down at charge range, debating whether to wade in or wait to see what the outcome of the Thracians charge was for both sides.
Things were nowhere near as tidy on the left, with the Judean Imitation Legions a long way off combat, the Gladiator command starting to think about damage limitation in the way they positioned their units. The Armenians on our side were however leading the way and had been locked in combat for some time already. It was hard to see a pattern emerging here, other than to say that the plan to overwhelm the flank with the Gladiator command was clearly not going to plan.
The slowness of the Imitation legions was starting to become a real problem on the left, as our Armenians were in all sorts of a mess trying to occupy vast amounts of the enemy army whilst keeping their own flanks in some sort of good order. The armoured horsemen were desperate for the Judean foot to get into combat and relieve the pressure on their left flank, especially as the centre of the enemy line was now only lightly held by LH and artillery, but their advance was painfully slow.
Legions at War!
Combat on the other flank was also painful - despite better weaponry the Thracian/Peltast combination was only managing to be better at picking up markers than its opponent - even the enemy bowmen were doing OK as well.
The Judeans had a great view of the unfolding battle, but their comrades were desperate for their viewpoint to zoon in rather than zoom out...
This really was a game of 2 halves, and on the right our forces were well generalled and co-ordinated - but clearly their opponents were even tidier, and were extremely confident about their formations ability to withstand our upcoming charge.
As the turns ticked on, our attack on the left was at last starting to show some glimmerings of coherence as the various moving parts started to finally align.
The elephant and the Gladiators had pushed the enemy LH away and were starting to wheel round into the flank of the proper cavalry, whilst the salient that the aggressive movement of the bowmen had created was starting to look vulnerable to the second wave of Judean infantry who were now close enough to do something useful - their "sweeper" peltast MF unit, usually tasked with sitting behind the line of Legionaries and moving to cover any gaps that might occur were instead already in action on the left of the Legionary line engaging bowmen.
Suddenly on the right flank the enemy formation started to shatter and flee, as the inexorable mathematics of Thracians vs Bowmen and Javelinmen saw holes appear in the enemy front line. This was the first time in the game they had looked untidy, and whilst some of our units were dangerously close to breaking the enemy were in disarray
What's Going on Here Then?
After looking to be in the balance for quite some time, the Romans and Judeans have achieved something of a breakthrough on both flanks, as the thinned out opposition forces quickly start to crumble in the face of sustained pressure. Across the centre the capital troops of both armies are now pretty much committed and will shortly begin trading units in evenly matched frontal combat, which the Judeao-Romans will hope is decided by an intervention from their victorious forces on both flanks.
Our Cataphracts on the left had put up a brave fight against the vast numbers of enemy they had been pitched against, but only one of the three was still left intact as the wall of Judean Legionaries slammed forwards and joined the fray. The solid mass of heavy infantry was now pressing hard into a gap in the enemy line where the disruption caused by the Cataphract charge had left the enemy with a mass of scattered and isolated units, and the Judeans were looking to sweep the piecemeal enemy away with a coherent and simple advance.
As the Judeans arrived, the Gladiators and elephant were also starting to see the benefits of a few turns of pip investment into recovering their formation. Several coherent blocks of infantry were now converging on the scattered enemy, and with bowmen, LHand artillery in the front line the opposition was not something they now feared.
On the right, a dramatic development as the enemy Armenian cataphracts line crashed forwards and initiated combat - leaving their infantry behind in the process, one of whom had suffered a series of unlikely dice outcomes to lose heart and flee in the face of continued harassment from the advance guard of our Legionary formation.
The Legions and Cataphracts on our right were now engaged, and with a longer line in combat and more Superiors fighting as well were quickly gaining the upper hand against the enemy Armenians. On the edge of the river the Thracian command was battered, but was now very close to wrapping up the enemy MF and bowmen as well, opening up the prospect of a significant and rapid collapse of the enemy forces on this side of the wooded plantation anchoring their previously solid line
With things going their way the red-clad Legions ploughed forward, their keenness to engage the enemy starting to outweigh their obsession with maintain a tidy line. The Armenians facing them looked nervously to left and right as our units moved into positions where they could launch devastating attacks on their flanks
Meanwhile, back on the other flank...
Yes, the most important and yet the most vulnerable unit on the far left of our army had fallen victim to concerted LH bowfire
What would happen next?
Units all around screamed in panic as the pachyderm exploded ... to no effect.
As predicted, the right wing of our army was now easily finding flanks amongst the shredded Armenian forces, hastening their demise as the battle lines descended into a swirling melee of individual units.
The theme of isolated units finding themselves in trouble was also one which was being repeated on the other flank, and the enemy mobile artillery were doing their best to demonstrate this in as extreme a fashion as possible as they received a charge from a lone Elite Gladiator unit - and promptly beat them off causing a cohesion loss in the process!
L'Art de la Guerre hint - In ADLG, Artillery get a brilliantly funny factor in combat.... +1 to whoever they are fighting!
The solid line of red-shirted Legions were still pressing forward on the right, as the Armenian wing continued to dissolve before their relentless advance.
What's Going on Here Then?
Whilst the Romano-Judean forces have been badly mauled in the head to head combat against the Romano-Armenians best troops, pressure from the victorious Thracians on both flanks is steadily tipping the overall balance of the battle in their favour.
Judean Legionaries on the left were also starting to finally get into their stride with the whole relentless advance malarkey, and with a chunk of the enemy mounted still tied up by a ridiculously survivable lone Cataphract (who had been engaged against the same opponents since the very start of the game) their opposition were forced into a somewhat piecemeal response
With their army collapsing over to their left, the enemy Auxilia decided that they needed to try and score some points for their team and stepped out of the plantation to engage our Legions - and no doubt the appearance of the most crappy unit in our army in front of them did much to boost the confidence of the enemy infantry in this endeavour!
Shamed by their loss in the previous turn, the Gladiators struck back and, screwdrivers and hacksaws at the ready, dismantled the enemy artillery in a single turn. With that loss the enemy army slumped to defeat and the game was won!
What's Going on Here Then?
The external flanks have proved decisive in influencing the outcome of the battle, whilst the Romano-Armenians dominance of the central woodland has been neutered, first by the Romano-Judeans decision not to commit troops to contest it, and then by the inability of the Romano-Parthian commander to allocate enough pips to the Auxilia at a time when all of his capital troops found themselves simultaneously engaged in the open.
The Result is an 86-24 win for Rome and Judea!
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 Triumverate Roman & Jewish Commander
Yet again my Legions and our allies the Parthians and Armenians have proved their mettle in the white heat of combat against a worthy foe, and the result is that my army is growing in confidence with each battle - the final home straight is for once something we can look for to with great expectation
In this battle our decisive choice to not contest the centre of the board proved to be utterly correct, allowing the Parthian LH to keep a goodly portion of the enemy safely bottled up whilst our main forces did the business in a very satisfactory fashion.
Losing the elephant was a little troubling I admit, but by that time the outflanking maneuver I planned was already mostly executed and the opposition had little left to throw against our brave Gladiators, and on the opposite flank, our Thracians. After they had both achieved success, ultimate victory was always within our grasp
We now go boldly into the last round with optimism in our hearts and a spring in our step - bring it on!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What foolishness lies beneath your addle-pated analysis of this supposed victory? A foolishness that is as profound as it is deep, and in which you will surely one day drown.
Here you in your oafish fashion committed your left flank in a foolish, rash and piecemeal manner, and it is only immense good fortune that allowed their individual and unsupported components to survive long enough to take advantage of the poor fortune of your opponent and get involved in the rollup of their right flank.
Rome was not built in a day, but the edifice of your idiocy appears to be a stable structure with deep foundations - it will take a substantial earthquake to knock you down to a level where you begin to recognise how utterly useless you actually are.
Even worse, today you are driving home, so you do not even have the excuse of all-day drinking to blame for your lack of comprehension of the role fate played in outplaying skill in this battle. Lets hope the next game provides you with a more sobering analysis.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition