Campaigns of Cyrus The Great in Campaign 2018
Achaemenid Persian vs Lydians
Game 3 in the round-robin format and the Lydians come up, led by Hubert. This was one of the armies I had been considering, as it would have offered me a chance to get a lot of hoplites out on table who rarely see light of day in competitions.
I had however used a Syracusan army a number of times at the CLWC club competition, which had scratched my hoplite itch somewhat and so they had fallen down the pecking order behind the more challenging and dynamic Persians
The lists for the Achaemenid Persian and Lydians 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.
The Lydians secured a waterway to narrow the table, and despite both of us deploying plenty of rough and uneven terrain none of it has ended up in the middle of the field - this allowed the Lydians to do exactly what I was hoping to avoid, have a clear plain on which to deploy shield to shield hoplites and advance.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - To get a waterway you need to roll a 4 or better to be allowed to include it as a terrain pick. If you fail this roll, you can pick another piece
With this mobile wall squeezing prospect facing me, I decided on a bold and risky deployment and strategy, effectively using the terrain down the right hand side to allow me to do what almost amounted to an on-table flank march.
This would involve swinging the battle onto a narrow frontage and cutting - I hoped - many of the enemy Hoplites out of the game by leaving them on the far side of the field as I attacked the Lydian troops - and the Lydian command and control capability - in the terrain on my right.
Part of this plan involved a calculated bluff at deployment. As soon as the dice hit the table surface my central command swung in behind my right flank, calculating that between the delaying efforts of my skirmish screen and the slower pace of the Lydian foot I would be able to move my Central command to the far right before battle was joined.
The Lydians were not exactly flush with rough terrain troops, and the sight of 20 units of Persians and their allies driving towards them through the plantations and field on the right soon put them to flight.
This was a real test of my oft-repeated mantra that if you are going to commit to do something in ADLG, you need to commit to doing it 110%. The commander of the Persian centre was urging his men on relentlessly as they countermarched to the flank.
This is a Xyston Persian General on a 40mm round base. The ADLG rules have a clever solution to the basing conundrum - Generals can be based on round bases to stand out, but if they would be disadvantaged in any way by not being on a 40mm square base, you treat them as if they were on a 40x40. Simple!
This concentration of forces had certainly unhinged the Lydians deployment and expectation, and their left flank was in fully defensive withdrawal mode against the greater numbers of Persians pushing them back. With the first command now well forward, the ex-Central command was able to turn about and swing into the terrain as well in a second wave of shooters.
The battle now seemed to be shaping up much as I had hoped, with a line of shooting developing with my Sparabara and Immortals using the cover afforded by the terrain to assail the enemy spearmen with impunity.
The Lydian foot were however armoured, giving them a +1 mitigating factor if they lost any shooting duel compared to the Median spearmen in the previous game, so hits were proving rather hard to come by.
On the extreme right cavalry, some redeployed also from the opposite wing, were putting pressure on the Lydian flank guards who were unable to move away without giving up the flank of their army
Running out of table fast, the Lydians were forced to stand and take it as the Elite Persian Heavy Cavalry went in.
In the frantic redeployment however, the non-moving Persian baggage had been an obvious target and an obvious lure. My expectation was that I would have many turns before it inevitably fell, but the Lydians had pushed some of their LH through a plantation-covered hill to capture it ahead of my schedule.
The cavalry battle on the flank had started to go my way, even with the threat of an overlap from Lydian LH. Elite + a General was a strong combination, and with Medium cavalry close by as well there seemed enough of my forces here to force a gap and threaten the Lydian infantry centre fairly soon.
The Lydians were starting to get squeezed together, and were breaking up into smaller blocks of units as they advanced, whilst the Immortals and Sparabara rained down ineffective archery on them from all sides. I really needed to do a few hits on the spearmen at this point in the game, as then the Immortals in particular might actually be able to have a go at fighting the enemy Hoplites, ideally with overlaps as they would struggle to extend their lines into the terrain
Finally my Cavalry achieved a breakthrough - but not without also taking some unexpected casualties along the way.
I really needed to be winning this particular battle more quickly if the Persian horse were to have time to regroup and help roll up the enemy line.
Remembering wherever possible to try and avoid combats I would surely lose, most of what was now my left wing was in full skirmish mode, with both Cavalry and Javelinmen evading from the approaching Hoplites.
Every now and then however a lone unit would be tasked with holding ground for a while to try and slow the enemy's relentless advance
Hoplite vs Immortal
In times gone by the Lydians had advanced around much of Asia Minor, and now they were closing in quickly on my forces.
Skirmishing is all well and good, but I was starting to appreciate just how the ratio of table size to movement distances makes it entirely viable to run a foot army in ADLG and still push your opponent off the table in the course of a normal length game
Cavalry and Javelinmen were now being pinned into the very corners of the table as the relentless line of armoured hoplites advanced.
The Persian Cavalry had been bogged down for far too long against the Lydian horse, and even when they managed to get through them and into the Lydian Medium foot it was already very late in the game - and their injuries hampered any hope they had of achieving a quick breakthrough here too.
With my right hook still bogged down, the Lydians sheer weight of numbers now allowed them to send hoplites into the terrain to crush the flanks of my bowmen and infantry - added together with the loss of baggage and the attrition my army had suffered in trying to delay the arrival of the hoplites my army was now teetering on the brink... but, with lots of movement, shooting and combat I hang on to claim an undeserved draw!
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 Achaemenid Persian Commander
Sheesh Kebabs, that was close. I knew that the armoured spearmen were good as I had included 4 of them myself in the last time this army came out - sadly they are not allowed in this theme, but here they would have been overwhelmed anyway I fear.
This was a good example of being 100% committed to a plan, and following that through totally - I kept my eye on the ball, and managed to keep that momentum going throughought the battle. If I had a smidge more luck on the far right with my Elite Cavalry that breakthrough could have gotten really interesting indeed
As it was however the game timed out, and my men struggled to break through anyway - my teeth surely now have no skin left on them?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Your teeh must have literally no skin left on them, and if I were to have been your teacher in the Persian military academy your backside would have been similiarly flayed as I would have whipped you to within an inch of your life for such a foolish plan
You decided to squeeze all of your army into one or two pieces of terrain - but failed to actually deply them in such a position so they could get there before the enemy arrived. This talk of faking your deplyment and redeploying is just so much tosh, especially when set against a claim to be 110% committed to doing this so-called plan.
Hiding in terrain also does not usually involve coming out of the terrain and fighting far better troops in the open in any definition I have ever read. How you managed to get so close to losing when a simple line of bowmen in the fields facing out across the battlefield would have been a perfectly viable and sensible tactic.
Your plan had some merit, but your execution was deserving of little more than exactly that - execution. Lets see how you do in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition