Open 2-list ADLG in Estella, 2018
Umayyad Arab vs Alexander The Great
And if magic it is now Game Three. This being Spain of course means that a lengthy break for lunch has already occurred featuring many Spanish culinary delicacies, as we eat in the legendarily-names Don Menu restaurant. Salad, carbohydrates, and Rioja all form a fantastic fusion to precede dessert, including this fabulous yet uniquely Spanish classic
Yes, this is fizzy water with added sugar. Not a wildly attractive drink in its own right, but when added to cheap(ish) wine it has the almost miraculous properties of turning what may well be borderline undrinkable (well, to an educated palette) booze into something very quaffable indeed. Wine, risotto, some meaty pasta stuff and a short walk and soon afterwards the afternoon game begins.
The afternoons opponent was Alexander the Great. Alexander's army would contain many elephants and so the optional list from the Invasion of Spain virtually selected itself, due to its many units of javelinmen. Perhaps they could be a little more effective this afternoon than against the Mexican Wrestling Elephants of I Cant Believe Its Not Ghaznavia?
The lists for the Umayyad Arab and Alexander The Great from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Estella can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
On the expectation of Alexander's army being smaller, the Umayyad General again opted for minimal terrain with a small plantation and a road. This in retrospect may have been a wine-fuelled decision, as a bit more terrain would also have channelled the Phalanx a bit more, but hey, who's counting?
Alexander had chosen to either attack or defend, but either way he did so alongside a waterway which stuck to the right side of the table as the Arab army deployed. With no Tibetans the choice of which command to put where on this bald field was trickier than usual, but the expectation of Pikemen in numbers led to what was essentially a Refused Centre and two strong flanks stacked with Mediocre Cavalry Lancers
The Alexandrians were similarly keeping a gap in the middle of their line (yeah, means it must be a clever tactic ...?) , as they too struggled to fill a table as bald as a wargamer's pate some 2-3 years before he realises that the comb-over isn't working any more. Keen to avoid the Phalanx, and equally keen to take on all of the enemy elephants with javelinmen (including Alexander's Indian ally) the Umayyad army split into a number of different divisions and firwaorked across the field of battle as all of the separate units steamed towards ther chosen targets.
Well, nearly all of Umayyads did this. With multiple troop types and no real practice at deplying the army the Arabs had ended up with an overly-complicated deployment on the left, which meant that the idea of a rapid advance was translated into a stumbling lurch forward as the many different units fought among themselves to claim precious pips.
As keen as the Arabs were to avoid the Phalanx, Alexander was equally keen to ensure that his long-speared specialists were in combat at the earliest possible opportunity. As the Arabs inched sideways hoping to avoid the Pike units, the Phalanx also split and shuffled, and then made a hasty beeline towards some of the now-isolated blocks of Umayyad troops.
Why (long) Spears are better than Swords
Seeing the Alexandrians spreading out was a development the Arabs positively welcomed as if a touch of chilli sauce had been added to a particularly dissapointing burrito.
The Umayyad army's formation of Javelinmen, Bowmen and cavalry was ideally structured to take down the Indian Allied Contingent which was sitting pretty on the Alexandrian left flank.
The Indians had only bowmen sat between their pair of elephants, meaning that the entire formation represented a compelling target for the Berber Javelinmen. The battle was hotting up!
The other side of the Phalanx was host to Alexanders own elephants and peltasts, and this too looked like an inviting target. The eclectic inventory of Umayyad troop types converged on the Alexandrians from all sides and at quite some speed, every one of them confident that they (and their matchups) held the key to a swift victory in this game.
What's Going on Here Then?
On a largely terrain-free table the Umayyad army has separated into distinct battles to take on the discrete elements in the Alexandrian force, losing the advantages of width and scale they would otherwise enjoy. The Alexandrians are advancing carefully, not allowing any of their powerful combat units to become detached from their parent formations.
Suddenly the two sides were ridiculously close. Having gotten tangled up with too many troop types, the Umayyads discovered that sending in a coherent charge against the Indians would now take something of the order of two dozen command points, a rather tricky total to aim for with half of one D6+2 (rounded down).
This was an error, and instead of waiting to try and sort it out the Arabian commander on this flank decided to go for broke. Charging his best quality (Average..) Lancer Cavalry into the Indian Bowmen was risky, especially with the Elephant nearby but if they won they would blast a hole quickly through the Indian vanguard, opening the path for an attack on the squishy Traditional Indian Rubbish Cavalry behind.
Immediately combat began the Indians found themselves in trouble, picking up markers all along their engaged frontage. The second line Indian troops were quaking with fear, as only Poor quality Indian cavalry know how to do
Staggered by the sheer numbers of Arab troops Alexander's guard Companions turned tail and fled.
Seeing what were supposed to be their best troops begin to fall back in the face of a shower of mediocre Libyan levies on horseback did little to encourage the Alexandrian elephant and peltast command who's work was already cut out in trying to avoid being overwhelmed by a veritable tide of North Africa pedestrian humanity.
But the fantastically painted Alexandrian elephants were having no truck with this idea that they should just stand there and be surrounded by the forces of the Caliphate. They charged home violently against whatever happened to be front of them
The Arabs have by now got nearly everything in the right place, and even though the elephant charge is potent it is still hitting the most resilient troops in the Umayyad army, heavy spearmen backed up by rear rank archery. These guys should be well equipped to survive the initial onslaught of the elephants.
More and more troops were being drawn into an ever widening line of combat, as the Arabian right started to run through the Indian Allied Command. With superiority of numbers the Umayyads were increasingly able to secure the favourable matchups that they had struggled to achieve in the previous game.
Alexander in turn had gotten his Phalanx into combat, but this may not be too helpful should the Indians protecting the left flank of his army collapse in short order.
The Arabs were now rapidly overwhelming the right flank of the Alexandrian Army as well. There were simply too many Umayyad units on the table for the embattled Alexandrians to respond to all of the varies threats.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Alexandrians have committed their main battle troops to combat in the centre, whilst their impressive Companion Cavalry have declined a fight on their right flank and instead fallen back to narrow their internal lines. The Arabs appear to have rather lost the initiative in choosing which combats to fight and which to avoid as the superior command and control of Alexanders men starts to bite.
This combination of shooting, together with aggressively charging horse and foot who was causing serious problems for the Alexandrian army, even though in one-on-one combats they tended to outmatch their Umayyad opponents.
More Tactics of Alexander (and his dad)
In a flurry of ears, trunks and dice the Alexandrian elephant force was reduced by half, further isolating the Hypaspists and peltasts, as well as exposing their Companions further to the rear to even more potential threats
But things were not all plain sailing for the Arabs.
Alexander's Phalanx had broken through the centre of the Caliphal army and its commander was now ordering the lumbering pike units to slowly wheeling outwards. This move started to apply considerable force to bear on both of the wings of the Arab army. With many of their spearmen already crushed by the advance of the Pike, and the rest carrying serious numbers of hits the Umayyads had no real answer to this attack.
As soon as the Phalanx got going the Umayyads risked being quickly overwhelmed. The only solution was to beat whatever was still in front of them as quickly as possible, and hope to extinguish Alexanders army before it snuffed them out in turn.
By now things should really be very much moving into an end-game phase on the Umayyad left.
The Arab attack on the Alexandrian right flank had scattered the limited Hellenistic units - but Alexanders army was possessed of far higher one-on-one quality than the troops of the Arabs, so with the battle stretched out the Arabs started to find it difficult to bring their sheer numbers to bear. The tide was turning, and numbers were suddenly more of a hindrance than a help as the Umayyad general struggled to find command and control points to keep all of his units in motion at the same time.
What's Going on Here Then?
Numbers are starting to count on the Umayyad left as the Alexandrians flank is picked apart and gradually overrun by Arab infantry and cavalry. In the centre however the Alexandrians ability to get their decisive Phalanx into combat has inflicted a heavy toll on the Umayyad infantry, and next to the ocean the Indian elephants continue to wreak havoc even as their supporting troops are stripped away.
The Companions and Hypaspists meanshile had no such issues, and were able to pick their targets as gradually they started to claw their way back into the game again.
The battle swung wildly as the Companions proved a stiff last line of resistance. Arabs were everywhere, swinging round at flanks and charging against the elite nobility of the Macedonian royal family, but quality and armour meant that the Companions often gave as good as they got in these exchanges.
Umayyads vs Visigoths
In seeking to swing round quickly into the flank of the Macedonian army the Umayyads had broken up their line.
As the game ticked towards an end phase it became painfully apparent that the Arabian's fractured formations were a massive problem, and instead a more coherent and slower linear march might have stood them in better stead. This way they had done better earlier on, but now lacked the command capability to close out the situation they had created
On the opposite flank the problem was not command and control. Instead it was the stoic resistance and phenomenal hitting power of an elite Indian elephant carrying a general.
Taking this sub-continental lordship down was soaking up all of the resources of the Umayyad flank commander, and in feeding the elephant units the Arabs were now at serious risk of running out of units capable of taking on the elephants at all. The focus shifted to trying to overwhelm the rest of the Indian Command
Both armies were battered and smashed by this point. Both armies were exhausted. Both armies were scattered across the table top. And, just as in the preceding game, both armies were now broken.
The Result is the second mutual destruction of the weekend.
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 Umayyad Arab Commander
Haway, what a terrible outcome. This game seemed to be reet w'in our grasp, and we could have been gannin ooop tha league reet quick like, but somehow it seemed to slip out of our grasp a bit like the '95-;96 Premier League title race.
Why aye man! Looking back, I still cannae work out what happened here to see the Toon Army not win the game. The Indians should have crumpled against mi' javelinmen, and the area on our left wing was so wide open ah didn'a think I'd need an actual army, more that a pooper scooper would've done to pick up the remnants of that Alexandrian right flank.
I had e'en taken thpose pikemen out of the game for hours, but they still managed to get in and give ma' team a reet good kickin'. Ah can only blame this one dice, although I must admit that I don't remember any particulartly bbad dice rolls going against me anyway.
It was a reet strange game in the end, and perhaps I have conjunctivitis if I canna' see how we didn't win here.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
If you can't see how you lost this you need a new general commanding your army, not eye drops for conjunctivitis. It's even written plain and simple in the battle report you fool - you overcomplicated your attack against the Indians, turning a pair of commands with more than enough Javelinmen to overrun an Indian allied contingent with no added support into a mess of incompatible units, none of whom were in a position to support their neigbours or pull together anything like a coherent attack.
After that disaster, you then decided to launch an attack anyway instead of trying to sort out the mess you had realised that you had made. Reinforcing defeat is stupid enough, but charging ahead even once you realise that your plan is inevitably going to end in disaster, just because you have started down a particular path, and then compounding that error by failing to spot that you lack sufficient support amongst your followers to implement your plan... imagine, what ruler of any counrtry could ever make such a mistake...?
Really, what happened here is that you started the game correctly, and then moved away from your original plan faster than a Spaniard breaking for lunch. The end result was almost worse than if you'd have done your normal trick of being utterly useless right from the very beginning, as at least that displays an ability to start with a plan and stick to it, rather than this flip-flopping and shilly-shallying shambles!
I wonder which idiot wlll turn up for the next game - the one who starts off well but then throws it all away, or the one who's a hapless fool throughout the entire 2 and a bit hours of the battle?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition