Classical & Roman in Limerick 2018
Han Chinese vs Carthaginian
The day started well, with a very civilized flight in the early afternoon to Shannon.
A manadatory Guinness was consumed in the airport, where I also experienced what is apparently a mandatory sighting of one member of Boyzone (Keith Duffy) in the Aer Lingus lounge - it being part of Irelands's aviation regulations that at least one boy-band member must be on any international fight leaving or entering the Republic.
Little did I know how important this sighting was to become however later that weekend..
On arriving at Limerick I then made a concerted effort to adjust my body clock to Irish time. Speeding through immigration, and with the ADLG-led-joy of only hand luggage I was almost instantly out into the airport concourse, and decided to avail myself of an enticing locally-made sausage roll at the cafeteria, not thinking for a moment that the server would whisk it away from me to pass through a serving hatch into the kitchens with a cry of "can ye warm this one up for us a little Doreen?".
A mere 15 long minutes later I was delighted to leave the terminal with my warm and greasy prize in hand, and locate and identify a bus-stop from which the hourly bus from Shannon to Limerick had just departed only moments before my arrival. Anyway, the sun was shining and Keith Duffy was nowhere to be seen so I settled down for a bit of a wait...
The town of Limerick plays host to a welcoming and trusting hotel by the name of The Pier who's receptionist merely hands you a sheet of paper on which is written all you might need, and tells you in no uncertain terms not to put your room key near your mobile phone - in case the subliminal messaging of 'I really don't want to talk to you' hasn't already been fully conveyed by now.
Some recent reviews of The Pier, from Trip Advisor;
But, again moments later I was roaming the back streets of rural city Ireland to navigate round the flock of poorly disguised priests and nuns surrounding the local sex shop to find the pub in which we were meeting - and which was owned by the family of the chap who runs Limerick's one and only game store and largest annual wargames, board games and role playing convention as well. That'll be a Guinness then please Mrs barperson !
After a night which involved far more interaction with German Battletech players than I had anticipated in my entire life prior to that moment, and a vague and possibly unsuccessful attempt on the part of William to get me drunk (neither of us can remember if he succeeded or not, but we did find a few nice pubs for old men, and he also texted his wife at 3am so on balance probably a score draw on that one I think) it was time for the hearty breakfast of champions (black and white pudding no less).
This prepared us all for a lift in Lord High Provost Aynsley's car to the Munster rugby ground, which is seemingly rather big and important - but was already accruing a touch of eau du wargamer as the players filed in for the day's festivities.
Game 1 was against another international traveller - Kiwi Tim, making this a staggeringly global international convention by any standards other than the ones that involve taking into account that Tim lives about an hour and a half away in Ireland.
His army was the army of Hannibal, and of Carthage with a solid Gallic Heavy Foot centre, a "Lidl Death Star"wing relying on non-Impetuous Medium Swordsmen to pad it out, and a proper-ish attempt at a cavalry force on the opposite flank. Facing this was my somewhat cobbled together and driven by the desire to use newly rebased figures Han army:
The Han - regarded as one of the better Chinese lists, the Han can have a pair of Elite Chariots (almost mandatory I suspect), decent amounts of shooting cavalry with bows or crossbows (to discomfort Cataphracts), and pretty much every flavour of foot you could imagine carrying a long-handled dagger axe. This sees them potentially deploying both Heavy and Medium Mixed bow/sword shooters and a great rough terrain force of 2HCW men including some Elites. They also have the rare but surprisingly effective Expendable Ordinary Levy who can clog up the battlefield something rotten.
The lists for the Han Chinese and Carthaginian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Limerick can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Not really fancying starting the weekend with a luck-fest against a wall of Heavy Foot Gauls (who were probably on balance better than much of my army), I had started both of my commands with a gap in between them, and lobbed the mini 2-Chariot command over on the left, which saw it end up facing off against the Carthaginian elephant command in a less than ideal matchup.
In a late night bar named after Ronan O'Gara's four-leafed plastic glasses, it appeared that the Massed Medium Foot with integral shooting capability were much happier facing a thin skin of Numidians on my right.
The only decent general in my 'I think I submitted it when I was a little bit drunk' list had command of horse and foot - and as the infantry lurched forward the cavalry in his command were sent on a wide outflanking move to seek to put pressure on the Numidians ability to delay my advance by getting behind them right from the off.
With only Ordinary Command & Control the micro-command was finding that it didn't really have enough pips to drive forward, and so the advance of the mostly Heavy Infantry command towards a showdown with the Elephants was somewhat disjointed from anything else resembling coherence even at this early stage.
The Carthaginians seemed equally keen on this matchup as well, bringing them into crossbow range of the mixed HF/X-Bow Chinese Skoutatoi (also apparently the title of Guns and Roses next album).
The volley of bolts struck home, and a nicely shielded Numidian Light Infantryman had the honour of taking the first ever casualty in an ADLG competition staged in Ireland (and in direct line of sight of Keith Duffy) as a result!
On the opposite flank the presence of a Brilliant General was inspiring the Han forces to actually move forward and do stuff. As the foot advanced menacingly the crossbow-armed cavalrymen unfolded out of line and advanced towards the Numidians from the right as well, putting the North Africans in a pickle as they came under fire and pressure from all sides.
Carthage was keen for a win, and seeing the Mediocre Swords in the Chinese Skoutatoi unit they clearly fancied their chances of an over and under frontal assault. The whole line charged home against the wall of China which drained the colours from the cheeks of the combatants on both sides with its ferocity.
The initial impact was stunning enough to bring everything back into technicolour focus. Of the 5 combats, the Carthaginians had won 3 and lost 2 - including a Spanish Swordsman who had evaporated on contact against the Han Guardsmen at the right hand end of the Han line. But, with serious dents in the Chinese forces the balance of the assault was probably still just about with the Carthaginians.
On the opposite flank the Gauls, as eager for some combat as Mrs Doyle is to pour tea, had split into two formations and drifted out towards where the action was taking place. On this flank that meant that a small formation of Celtic warriors had smashed into the end of the Chinese lines even as the mixed formations of crossbowmen closed down the worried Numidians who were even now realising they had pretty much run out of table. The Chinese Heavy cavalry were also closing in for the kill on the outside edge of the battlespace.
Inspired by the proud Celtic spirit of George Best's Pope-fearing Boiled bacon and cabbage, the line of scrimmage on the left was entering into the desperate struggle phase as both sides pushed at each other with near-identical factors at close range. With frontal fighting a stalemate it came down to the Levy to deploy the added factor of width and wheel round into the flanks of the Spanish foot, as the rest of the Chinese infantry held firm.
This combat was now sucking in troops from an ever-wider area as the Carthaginians threw their Cavalry force into the mixer to try and wrest back the advantage from the Chinese levy.
But, whilst their attack was helping their infantry the wide Cavalry formation was unavailable to overwhelm the Chinese Chariots who continued to struggle to find a battlefield role under the constraints of their ridiculous 3-troop-type Ordinary commanders competence..to the surprise of no-one at all.
This combat was now sucking in troops from an ever-wider area as the Carthaginians threw their Cavalry force into the mixer to try and wrest back the advantage from the Chinese levy. But, whilst their attack was helping their infantry the wide Cavalry formation was unavailable to overwhelm the Chinese Chariots who continued to struggle to find a battlefield role under the constraints of their ridiculous 3-troop-type Ordinary commanders competence.
The Gauls had locked the Chinese Medium Infantry in combat and were now swinging round out of the centre in a sort of weird reverse Cannae to try to roll them up. But, with the bulk of the command still pressing forward against what should surely be weaker opponents it was entirely possible that the Chinese infantry would be happy to lose in this situation just to buy time for their comrades to do the business against the Numidians and come out with a material net win in the process.
Yet more Gaelic-speaking Gauls had arrived on the other flank as well, and the seemingly solid Chinese line of Heavy Foot was now decidedly thinner than when it started, with 3-hit Red-edged casualty markers on far too many of the units for anyone's peace of mind.
The Carthaginian cavalry were making slow going against the Levy, but the Spanish had sliced through like Iberico ham, forcing the Han to reluctantly commit proper second line troops like their Tribal javelinmen to try and hold up against outflanking manoeuvres.
With the Gauls still shuffling their feet to their left, the Chinese right wing finally got the pips it needed to bring up all of its troops, block the evades of the Numidians and pile in to try and sweep the enemy light horse from the field.
This possibility of victory also fired the Chinese bones of the Heavy Infantry command on the opposite flank! Downing pints of craft Guinness flavoured with Ronan O'Gara's EU-funded bacon sandwich, they were teetering on the brink of oblivion, but with whatever the Chinese equivalent of herculanean effort is they found reserves of long-forgotten strength and fortitude to bring down the Elephantry and Spaniards of the Carthaginian right and drive forwards towards the shocked skirmishers behind.
The Gauls were still going to be well favoured to finish the job, but at least some of them had been taken down in the process, adding hurt and hits to the Libyan Empire's morale and cohesion.
Time for a tea break!
The Carthaginian morale had collapsed as even the Javelinmen managed to pull a win out of the bag as well - a clean sweep of the enemy command's battle troops !
On the opposite flank the faster-moving Han mediums and cavalry were also making a pretty good fist of sweeping up the Numidian screen as well - only one horseman remained alive as the Gauls stormed forward against those elements of the Chinese command who had bothered to hand around to be fought. With opponents in short supply, and pips in abundance the Chinese general also sent forth one of the Light Horsemen towards the Carthaginian camp for a spot of potential future looting.
With the entire command teetering on the edge of destruction the Han commander decides to really go for it, with attack being the best form of defence. Chinese infantry swing into formation to charge home against the flanks of the surprised Gauls who had been sure that they would be very much on the winning side on this side of the table.
The Chariots are also looking for glory as their terrible command and control and ungainly movement means they have now run out of options other than charging enemy spearmen. When that fails to succeed cinematically they find themselves attacked from the rear by yet more Numidians.
Han Chariots vs Enemy cavalry
The centre of the table is entirely denuded of troops as the Chinese attempts to outflank the Carthaginians and avoid the powerful Gallic strike force in the centre through manoeuvre are exacerbated by the destruction of the innermost edges of the two widely separated Chinese commands.
But, as always, it's the quiet ones you need to watch. Having blocked the evade of 2 Numidians earlier in the game allowing them to be caught by the Chinese Crossbow Heavy Cavalry, the Light Horse bowman makes a mad and fast-paced dash for the enemy baggage, capturing it to tip the Carthaginians to defeat only moments before the Gauls would have struck the final blow for a Carthaginian victory elsewhere on the field!
The Result is a "Father Ted" - a first win for the Han in Ireland, and a Bishop Brennan for the Carthaginians as they are roundly kicked up the arse by the team from China!
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 Han Chinese Commander
When Carthage tried fighting the Han
They needed to come up with a plan
But their flanks weren't secure
And their Nellies were poor
So their baggage got sacked, oh dear, damn!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Look, I could easily write my response in verse - as well as being one of the greatest generals of all time I was a very accomplished poet and author in my day, erudite and well regarded. But it would be unfortunate and a little tedious if I had to cook up rhyming couplets in which every sentence had to end in a word that sounds like "sh-t", wouldn't it?
Here you were basically very lucky indeed that your badly constructed army was not ploughed under before some of your sneaky and otherwise redundant Light Horse managed to steal away from the battle line and eat the enemy baggage - which is always a terribly unsporting way in which to claim a victory, free of style and grace.
You tried to refuse your centre, which is a bold move, but if you replay the actions of the game again you will find that all that you achieved was to allow the Gallic infantry who startede on the hill to wheel outwards and roll up both your wings from the centre. If you are refusing a centre, yu need to have at least some sort of reserve there that can tie up the enemy forces, not just a plan to ignore them and hope they don't notice the rest of the battle.
Really, all you managed thhrough this tactic was to get sucked into a war of attrition, as you were unable to close quickly enough on the two wings of the enemy army to overwhelm them before the enemy centre got into the game again. You were as lucky as only an Irish 4 leaf clover can be - maybe the luck and the Guinness will run out before the next game.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition