Campaigns of Cyrus The Great in Campaign 2018
Achaemenid Persian vs Achaemenid Persian
Milton Keynes, land of concrete underpasses, rats and an Indian restauant seemingly designed from the ground up to attract wargamers like moths to a keema naan is the home of the annual team event Campaign. At each successive edition Mad Lemmy threatens to drag the local MKWS club slowly kicking and screaming into the 18th Century, but this time around the entry process still involves the only appearance of a cheque book by at least one team member and requires the use of an ouija board to determine the postale address to which to send the cash and entries. Online payment might maybe happen as soon as 2019, but for now Simon was the man with the pen and the cash, I suggested the team name ("As Yet Unnamed") and Dave came along just to make up the numbers.
This year the pool I was in for Campaign was themed for the Campaigns of Cyrus the Great 550-535BC. The list of allowable armies (all of which had to be chosen in that date range) were
I don't own enough Thracians, haven't started painting my Babylonians just yet, didn't really fancy taking a spearwall army after trying Rus last year in Bristol and finding it a bit dull to play, so the choice of either Medes or Achaemenid Persian floated to the top of the pile almost by default.
Add in a lack of time to cook up a list, and a bit of a mauling against blocks of 3 bowmen at Roll Call and wanting to test it myself, as well as the idea of recycling one of the first armies I had put on table in ADLG - the EAP, at the French Tank Museum in Samur - was the winner!
The lists for the Achaemenid Persian and Achaemenid Persian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Campaign can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Name of Video
The first game was a civil war against the only other Achaemenid army in the pool, commanded by the evil Derby supporting turncoat Mr Royle. His team Derby County dropped out of the top flight some years ago after a display of spectacular ineptitude, but sadly had managed to eke out a battling 1-0 win over Fulham in the first leg of the EPPL playoff semi-final on the Friday night before Campaign, whilse I'd been watching someone skinny half-assed English folk singer playing songs about Making America Great Again in London.
With two near-identical armies on table, deplyment would be all - and both of us deplyed the same way, with our Cavalry commands in the centre and infantry on both wings. The game started in that usual frantic, uncoordinated mess that these first round games tend to. Both teams tried to start on the front foot, which is a sure recipe for entertaining chaos.
My not so secret once deplyed weapon was that I had stiffened - or bulked out - my 3-strong Sparabara/Immortal units with a couple of extra infantry. Here on the right flank I had 2 Javelinmen in order to prepare myself for the one possible elephant in the list that none of the other players had ended up selecting, and on the opposite side 2 Medium Spearmen. In this matchup the Javelinmen gave me the opportunity to be wider than the opposition, and do more shooting - both A Very Good Thing.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Medium Spearmen are usually a teeny bit pants. They aren't errible, but it's more that it can be hard to find a list or situation when there isn't something, well, just a bit better to choose from. In this theme however there were no Impact Cavalry (who can usually run them over), no 2HCW-armed infantry (who are the nemesis of spearmen) and plenty of 'Inferior' mixed Bow/Sword units, so actually Medium Spearmen aren't all that bad.
The centre of the pitch was where both sides would use their pace and Cavalry to try surgically to pick holes in the opposition line.
The Derby-supporting Achaemenids were less enthused by the whole intricacy rubbish, preferring a more simple and direct hoof a load of Elite Heavy Cavalry down the centre approach, possibly mindful of the opportunity to be ready when they inevitably signed up Steve Mclaren again as Head General once his regular rotation into the post became due again in the next 18 months
Faced with the unappealing prospect of sending my 2 Heavy and 2 Medium Cavalry units up against the wall of enemy Heavy Horsemen in the centre, I'd already decided that this was not an area where my Fulhamite Persians could win - but a loss which broke up the enemy Cavalry formation and bought time for my fast moving Sessegneonic attacks on both flanks to overwhelm the opposition with width alone would be as good as a 1-0 away first leg defeat, so anything that achieved that end was worthwhile.
Praying for my own Fulhamite Persian Heavy Cavalry to stand up for a while against the enemy some of the Mediums charged into one of thse gaps that always looks like it might be a good idea to charge into, but never ends up proving to be so. Enemy Light horse and skirmishers fled in all directions in the face of superior enemy firepower.
As brave but foolhardy Fulhamite Persian Aechemenid Cavalry prepared to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, the other two units in the army had spread themselves to the flank from where they were even now pinging over superb archery fire to drive back the enemy Light Horse and craft a powerful advantage to outflank the enemy infantry formation. Both lines were near-identical, apart from my added reserves. When they were selected the javelinmen seemed like a curious move: now it looked inspired.
On the opposite wing the Fulhamite Persian Immortals and Sparabara were also steaming forward with purpose and intent, again drifting further out to the edge of the pitch with more units than the enemy were able to match.
As the opposing Heavy cavalry started to push deep into the heart of my army it was time to initiate combat and try and force a winning position with my infantry on the right before their left flank was undone and overrun with enemy horse.
The two additional Cavalry I had on the wing were nigh on untouchable for the enemy skirmishers facing them, and this game me a pair of overlaps to add to the already-inflicted shooting hits on the mixed bow/sword formation in the centre of the enemy line, potentially a flank-busting advantage at this early stage of the no messing around battle.. provided the dice believed in my plan as well
Overlapping runs down the wing were also the theme of the opposite flank too, this time with the unheralded Medium Spearmen doing the business against not much opposition. Every unit of Derby-supporting Sparabara had been attacked in a coordinated series of assaults which sapped the pips of my General to the limit - even some Light Horse were getting involved to try and turn the opposition inside out with their pace and dribbling skills.
As the two lines of men who mostly preferred shooting to combat struggled against each other at close quarters, the Fulhamite Achaemenid infantry were finding it difficult to find space to do much damage in their densely packed ranks - they began dropping deeper and deeper, putting hit markers behind them as the opposition found reserves of strength to rock the Fulhamites back. It had been a long season since they were last out of the box, and perhaps it is tempting to think that extraordinary run of almost 3 years unbeaten (OK, they'd not played but you count them all) had come a tiny bit too early and had sapped their energy before this actual battle.
Everyone was being drawn into the ruckus as the gravitic pull of a potentially decisive part of the tabletop started to exert its pull on both armies. Both generals prowled the touchline like caged tigers, picking which of their men they needed to encourage to rally off their hits in order to either shore up their lines or force a decisive breakthrough.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Rallying off one hit needs a 4 normally, or a 5 if your unit is in combat. If a General is in contact with your unit he adds +1 to the dice roll making it a bit easier to recover.
Remember that plan I had to lose slowly in the middle whilst overwhelming the enemy flanks with pace and numbers?
And remember how the battle on the flank is still very clearly still going on?
The whole 'refused middle' thing was fast running out of time and table as a lone Medium Cavalryman retreated in panic back towards the Fulhamite Persian camp..
But as the game moves into it's second leg, the Fulhamite Persians start to turn on the style and turn the screw on the Derbyinistian Achaemenids. With all of their cavalry trying to win the game on their right, the Derbynistian Persian infantry are slowly crumbling under the pressure of the relentless Fulhamite perssure. That 2+ year unbeaten run was surely no flash in the pan as the Fulhamites claw their way back into contention. First up their young superstars, the Medium Spears start to gain the upper hand against the Derbyinitians and then the Immortals end up doing the same to pile on more pressure on the Northern monkeys of the opposition.
The defensive line has been breached!
Swinging in from the right flank a telling crossfield assault sees the Fulhamite Persians let a Derbynistian Persian one-two go straight down the middle of their penalty area and head home for a score.
But even as the Derbynistian infantry and horse pour forward the Fulhamite counter-attack is well underway. Breaking quickly from defence they race along the touchline and cut inside onto their left feet to hamstring the Derbynites as the Fulhamite Cavalry in particuylar start to sweep round and into the rear of the enemy 6-yard box. The advantage I had been looking to work in had come to fruition at last as the enemy LH were driven back allowing the powerful Cavalry to do their worst
With victory starting to be tantalizingly within reach on both flanks the holding midfielder Medium Cavalry recieved orders from the bench to take one for the team and commit a professional foul to halt the enemy striker in his tracks in his run down the centre towards the open goal of the Fulhamite baggage train. Which, being mostly Egyptian, didn't normally get much of a look-in so far in ADLG, but hopefully more biblical events next year will see it emerge from the drawer again?
The Great Persian Carpet Roll-up was well underway as the Fulhamites turned the tables on the enemy to gain those all important flank factors and try to finish them off.
Victory was now in sight but the Derby folks had other ideas.
Suddenly there are spaces opening up all across the pitch as the Derbynistian heads go up - the Fulhamites have been on the offensive all night, but have failed to break down the resolute defensive tactics of the opposition. Its is a defeat for the Persians, but the game will go into its second leg in a couple of days in which the Persians will have home advantage !
The Result is a first leg defeat
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 Darius Jokanovic the Achaemenid Persian Commander
Eighteen or 19 months ago this army and empire was in a mess but the experienced players sre starting to show how they can do the job for us and we are delighted about that
As a one-off result you always want to win, but going into this game I would have taken this as a first result if you had offered it to me. When we have home terrain in the next leg and the home crowd roaring us on then I think we will be OK - but also I would love to have been awarded a bye and sitting in Costa now
We created many things without being lucky, in the second half we pushed stronger, but they scored on the breakaway on the flank and I must be satisfied for the team, for the supporters - this spirit we will need many times in the second leg and I believe these people deserve one of these nights
In general, my point of view is we played better football than the Derbynistians over the entire battle
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You really made hard work of that my erstwhile friend - even when losing you seem to struggle. How could you turn a situation in which you had two commands of infantry both of which outmatched your opponent on both flanks and yet still you floundered around like a wet fish on a bathroom floor trying to eke out an advantage, then threw it away in the end anyway?
For a shooting army you did a lot of close combat, and for an army designed in theory to have Spearmen to stick into enemy Bowmen you certainly failed to stick many spearmen into many bowmen at all.
Your game pacing was also terrible and I think it will take until the second leg for you to achieve the breakthrough your formation deserves. Here your baggage was in real risk of being eaten in this overly-small-army scenario which you seem obsessed with repeating from the last event.
I fear to see what nonsense you will encounter and display in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition