Campaigns of Cyrus The Great in Campaign 2018
Achaemenid Persian vs Neo Babylonian
Game 4, first thing on Sunday morning after a hearty Wetherspoons breakfast saw the Persians taking on Daryl's rebel army of Milton-Keynsian Neo Babylonians. This would be my men's first encounter with Heavy Chariots, the powerhouses of the theme at this year's Campaign - although the rest of the army was not quite as much to write home about.
The lists for the Achaemenid Persian and Neo Babylonian 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 Babylonians succeeded in narrowing the table with a waterway but very little else either landed, or survived my rolling to move or remove it.
An open plain should favour the Persian superiority in Cavalry and archery, and the theory was it would also allow me to avoid the 4 Heavy Chariots for as long as possible.
By the time deplyment was done both armies wee somewhat offset, with the both of my infantry commands on my right facing the Babylonian cavalry wing whilst my own Cavalry screened off the enemy Heavy infantry and Chariots. Not too bad an outcome.
Keen to start shooting up the Babylonian Cavalry wing before the Chariots could lumber over to intervene my whole army pressed forward as quickly as possible.
The Baylonian horsemen clearly did not fancy being shot down by 6 units of mixed bow/swordsmen, and decisively redeployed themselves out of danger behind their own Chariots and infantry who had started rather more slowly in pip terms than their horsemen command. This left my army staring somewhat into open space, setting up another "turn the table" battle which would this time have more chance of leaving the enemy Heavy Foot out of reach of the line of scrimmage
Swinging my men round in a wide arc, the Sparabara and Immortals were able to position themselves to pour all of their considerable firepower at the 4 Heavy Chariots of the Babylonians. With extra width, and some shooting hits on the way in this seemed my best chance of evening up the odds before - inevitably - the Chariotry crashed into my line.
Cyrus The Great
All my efforts were going into shooting up the Chariots and outflanking them - and all of the Babylonians efforts were going into preventing that happening. This was bad news for some of the Babylonian Horse, who Daryl had urgently press-ganged into the unpleasant task of absorbing Persian archery to shield the Chariots from some of the incoming fire.
I had teed up a formation in which should the Chariots charge home, several units of my Cavalry would be ready to swing into their flanks in subsequent turns - however this had not, as I had expected and hoped, put off the Babylonians from charging into what could develop into a valley of death and they just piled on in regardless.
At least this formation had 2 of the Immortals in it, making them slightly more resilient in combat than the other block of shooters with 2 Sparabara and 1 Immortal
L'Art de la Guerre hint - formations of bow/foot count as their actual quality for shooting (so, Elite for the Immortals and Ordinary for the Sparabara). In combat however they drop a quality level, making the Immortals merely Ordinary at fighting. They do however benefit from "Support" in the first round, adding +1 to any losing score to simulate the effect of rear rank shooting at the chargers.
Clearly the Immortals had failed to read the script - or more accurately, I had failed to appreciate just how bad the combat factors are for Elite Chariots hitting Ordinary medium Foot in the Open - and evaporated at first contact leaving only one rather surprised Sparabara alive.
The Babylonian cavalry had also charged home as well, but here my mixed shooter formations had stood up a little better. The end result of these simultaneous attacks was that the Babylonians had created almost too many flanking opportunities for my meagre Cavalry force to be able to exploit all of them.
Seeing a chance to drive through the enemy horse towards the Babylonian baggage train I opted to put Persian Cavalry into this combat where I was already doing OK.
Persian Death Metal
More flank attacks by my cavalry then despatched one of the enemy Chariots as Medium Cavalry attempted to hold back the encroaching tide of Babylonian Heavy Foot whilst I worked out what to do with the other two enemy Tiger II's in my backfield
The Babylonians were pouring more and more cavalry into my right hook, but with reserves of spearmen and spare Persian horse also floating around I was still reasonably confident that at least this part of the battlefield was going my way.
However, there were not really all that many enemy cavalry here, and my men seemed to be making slow work of chewing them up - so the damage wrought by the enemy chariots was still hurting me more than this combat was hurting the Babylonians
The two chariots, led by the near-indestructible Elite General-carrying vehicle spun around and rolled over the last remaining Sparabara.
With the centre of the field now swept clean of my combat infantry the chariots would need to find a new target
I had by now decided that these beasts simply had to be taken down, no matter what the cost. Flinging Medium Cavalry (yes!) into the fray I engineered a potential cheeky destruction for the stripey-coated Babylonian General, by turning the already-badly-wounded non-generals chariot through 90 degrees to see if I could blow it up into the Generals flank. At the same time he was held in place by another rear attacking Medium Cavalryman
The Unbearable Inevitability of Cheese
The hitherto forgotten Babylonian infantry had been steadily marching across the field towards my baggage. Despite being threatened by the Satrapal Guard their long range shooting was proving troubling for the Javelinmen who were all that now stood between them and my camp.
At least with the Immortals and Sparabara now gone the General from this command had little else to do but keep trying to rally the Javelinmen to keep my now-battered army just about afloat
The Persians surely must run out of Cavalry soon to push at my right hook? The Immortals and their supporting cast ground slowly forwards.
Boom! In an explosion of wheels and crowns the remaining two Babylonian chariots evaporated - the bold flank attack had done its job, killing the first chariot to cause a hit on the in-combat General who then went onto fail his Commanders death test, taking an extra hit on his unit in the process - this in turn broke them as well. Now my Medium Cavalry (with an injury, and with a bravely attached General) were in sole command of the field of play.
With both victory and defeat now seemingly in both armies grasp, a near-farcical bout of incompetent adding up then ensued, in which we both thought - temporarily - that we had broken, and at one point decided that a mutual destruction had happened. Seeing my right hook collapse did little to help this situation - but eventually the maths all added up, and both armies were within one hit of destruction.
With all to play for and all to lose, attention turned to the skirmish near my baggage where units were zipping about in all directions seeking to sneak in a cheeky shot or avoid getting hit at all costs. There were dodges, there were rallies, there was archery... and in the end, by the slimmest of all possible margins and with only one hit point left I triumphed!
The Result is a a win, but by the narrowest of all possible margins.
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
Phew, that was close! I always was confident right up until the moment I thought that I had lost, and even after I had won I did not feel like I was secure in my victory.
At least this provided a chance for me to test my theory of shooting against enemy Chariots to damage them enough for me to stand up against them with my foot. Admittedly the plan did not appear to work as well as I hoped - and that bit where my Immortals and Sparabara were just removed instantly from the table was somewhat of a low point - but apart from that the setup worked well enough.
Getting the Medium Spearmen into a position where they could virtually score a touchdown was also an impressive feat, and putting them up against Cavalry was a good justification of their existence in my list.
Next time I come up against Chariots I think I either need a slightly improved plan, or much better dice however. I wonder which one is easiest to develop?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
The abject folly of your list here was revealed for all to see, as you brought a butter knife to a fight in which one of the 6 possible opponents would be using a chainsaw, and it appears you are now shocked by the outcome.
The Persian army list in the dateline of this competition is allowed Cyrus mobile towers, and also some Mediocre Light Camelry. Imagine how effective a sole war wagon would have been at blocking those Chariots inbetween the terrain, and how useful a Light Camel could have been at zipping in for a net -2 overlap (overlap + camel panic) against them as well? There is sometimes a reason for historically succesful generals choices in obscure troop types, but you in your lack of wisdom choose to ignore this type of advice at your peril.
You also pretty much gifted your baggage - and the 4 points it represents - to your opponent, which is a terrible idea in a world where you have only 20 or so units to lose.
It's hard to see how you won this game, but I am sure we will see you comfortably lose the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition