Classical & Roman in Limerick 2018
Han Chinese vs Achaemenid Persian
Now it was second lunchtime, and another opportunity to browse the well stocked and single stand trade showette. This was a challenging experience to say the least, similar to visiting a middle eastern bazaar or Indian street market in which the vendors assailed me with entreaties to purchase a vasy and utterly undeplyable large plastic house. With a waterwheel.
This piece of epic sculpture had been fashioned from some light and clearly very durable plastic-substitute material, possibly similar to the tiles used on the underside of the Space Shuttle, and imported from Germans for the sole purpose of tempting unwary wargames to engage in haggling with the landlady of the retail emporium ("go on go on go on go on...") to buy something that clearly had lain unbought in the shop for many years or perhaps even decades.
With two games and several more pints of Guinness down the temptation was strong to cave in, but with fortitude I managed to resist - and therefore, sand waterwheel, the end of the day pitched my army of Han China against the might of the Persian Empire - well, at least that bit that might have given Alexander the Great a slightly harder time if it had bothered to turn up and fight in some of the great battles of history. Yes, this was late afternoon and the even Later Aechemenids.
The lists for the Han Chinese and Achaemenid Persian 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.
Late Achaemenid lacks the allure of the Immortals and Sparabara in the earlier armies, and is also light on gimmicks as well and so often fails to get much of a mention. In theme however it can outnumber the mounted capabilities of most prospective opponents with some ease, making it an ideal base for a Lopez-esque "wall of mounted crap" army.
I had managed to sneak down a waterway in an attempt to narrow the tab le against the likely mounted horde, and, more importantly, I had remembered that I had brought along 2 rubber fields from TSS, which had first seen action in Burton earlier this year as part of the equally oriental-themed Samurai terrain. But here in Limerick they were not only culturally appropriate - they also allowed me to deploy a fearsome pun with each field that landed.
Yes, right here in Ireland (where else?) I was able to deploy a pair of Paddy Fields.
The Persians were as expected a line of cavalry, but also a half hearted Death Star with peltasts of some sort either side of it. My army's plan was simple, spread out and try to sweep the Persians from the field. The Heavy Infantry command was deployed on the open flank, Chariotry down the middle and the Medium Foot hugging the fields and waterway on the opposite flank.
In the absence of any decent craic caused by Father Ted Unctious' lilting plastic glasses, both armies were drifting frantically towards the edge of the table as they advanced, the Persians taking advantage of their surfeit of extra legs in order to do so a little more quickly than the Chinese pedestrians facing them.
Their Elephant Death Star had no qualms either way, it was ploughing forwards - as were the two scythed chariots in the Persian line.
On the opposite flank much the same was happening with both armies spreading out and closing on one another with all the haste that a cutting edge fast moving city like Limerick can muster.
Soon the Persians started to come within crossbow range of the Chinese Green Line. Bolt after bolt flew out, to limited effect as the Persians in their practical and stylish trouser suits danced in front of the Chinese infantry. The Scythed Chariot was building up a proper head of steam by now, although the Chinese had already resolved to deal with it in what is arguably the best way possible - just ignore it and shoot it if you can.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Scythed Chariots only have 1 hit point. A well-aimed shot will remove them from play.
The Chinese Heavy Infantry were by now pretty close to the Persians and hugging the edge of the board, but in their shuffle had left a rather weakened left flank where only 2 units of impressed levy were standing in front of a Persian Elephant Death Star - not a particularly fair matchup!
Hoping to hold up the Persians in a protracted slog for at least long enough for the rest of the command to push away the cavalry on the table edge, the Chinese commander had shoved the Levy forward - an opportunity the Persians embraced gleefully and with a Scythed Chariot charge!
Simultaneously the other flank of Chinese infantry also received a Scythed Chariot charge, as their attempts at shooting the wheeled monstrosities up on the way in had sadly come to naught. Anyway, standing and taking it on the chin (see what I did there?) was now both the best and the only option available to the Oriental infantry.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Scythed Chariots are on evens factors against pretty much everyone, and neither side counts overlaps at first contact. Basically they are a lottery weapon - and with Furious Charge they can be great, or a damp squib.
Instead however of standing there and taking it on the chin, the Ch'in forces were standing there and then were simply taken off as the Persian shock troopers smashed through the line of rather bemused and horrified Medium Foot halberdiers and pursued onwards into the back zone of the Chinese army!
The other chariotry were not quite so deadly, but even so managed to survive the first round of combat and record a win against the Chinese peasant hostages, damaging them severely in the process. Like a single malt Whisky inspired by Louis Walsh's rain-soaked Irish Stew, and with the afternoon now heating up considerably it was time for radical action - I moved seamlessly from Guinness to Carlsberg in an attempt to counteract the extreme weather.
Choosing to leave their crossbow-armed Heavy Cavalry to deal with the Chariots, the Medium Foot Command swung round towards the right flank of the Persian which was now pretty much occupying a gentle hill in the middle of the table.
The Persian horsemen, few in number on this wing, seemed reluctant to come closer to the extended line of Chinese foot - clearly unwilling to add deeply inserted crossbow bolts to their sartorially elegant uniforms of exotic silks brought no doubt down the road in China
Maybe even they managed to have a quick look for Keith Duffy on the way?.
The Persians (ish)
The other Scythed Chariot had successfully polished off the Levy and was now having a crack at the Elite Halberdiers of the Chinese Imperial Guard. As the Chariot steamed in the rest of the Persian left flank also fell back under threat of intense archery and crossbow fire.
The Persians were wriggling like a recently poached sand eel in a Galway tinkers sack as the Han forces used their speed across the open plain to try and bottle them into as small a space as possible between the line of crossbow foot and the back edge of the table. The Paddy Field was looking like it might even get another mention in the text of the battle report, much to everyone's fear and groaning.
With the Persians forced back on both flanks by aggressive infantry shooting and advancing, the Death Star suddenly found itself isolated and a little exposed - a situation which the Chariot command was looking to take full advantage of. The other levy unit had proved much more resilient than the first, and was holding up the mercenary peltasts even now, many turns after the Chariotry had run down their comrades in chains.
Mrs Doyle best bits
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of Father Ted Unctious' Guinness-drenched Black and white pudding, , everywhere the Persians were being driven back - or, as Darius would no doubt say, were making a well planned strategic and tactical withdrawal at speed. But, with the Scythed Chariot still living on - remarkably - the Chinese line was starting to fray at the edges as they sought to keep up a coherent advance. The Chariot attack on the flank of the Death Star needed to resolve soon, before the Persians returned to the fray.
But soon was not in the Death Star's vocabulary it seemed - despite the crushing impact of chariots and flank attacks the Persian troops in the centre had realised just how vital their role actually was in the grand scheme of things and were not only holding on resolutely, they were striking near-mortal blows in return in situations where by rights they should just have been happy to carry on for a turn or two more.
With the Chinese forces bogged down in a longer slogging match than they really had planned the Persian cavalry were now able to come flooding back from their short term strategic retreat and pile headlong into the over-extended Chinese front line.
Choosing the classic meeting point between two enemy commands as their attack vector the Persians launched waves of attacks, opening up flanks and putting pressure on the Chinese command and control system as they were now struggling to balance out the wish to push the Persians from the table with the urgent need to avoid being outflanked.
At least the Heavy Infantry command was starting to make some inroads with its relentless shooting. Persian horsemen fell from their saddles to the tabletop as volleys of crossbow bolts rained down on them in their careful retreat.
"Bigger" - or "Far Away" ?
With the troops in front of them starting to dissolve the Chinese Guardsmen were now feeling confident enough to peel off and join the attack on the almost-becalmed Death Star, squeezing it between a halberd and a chariot in the process as the levy fought on past the point at which they should by rights have gone.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Levy only take 3 hits to be removed, despite being classed as Heavy Infantry (who usually take 4). Clearly neither me nor my opponent had realised this at this point in time, as this levy seems to have suffered 3 hits and still be fighting. Oops!
With the peltasts on the flank of the Death Star run down by chariotry hitting their flank, the Chinese faced a tricky choice. Fighting an Elephant with a Chariot is problematic, but a flank is a flank. The Chinese wheeled unit charged home and scored a first round win.
But the win wasn't really all that decisive, only 1 hit being inflicted. In the absence of any decent craic caused by Liam Neeson's EU-funded Irish Stew, this left the Elephant able to conform in its' next turn, and with peltasts also moving up in support suddenly things looked pretty terrible for the Chariotry - and if they fell, for the Chinese Chariot general as well.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Factors here are 2 for the Elephants vs Mounted, +1 for the overlap and -1 for the Hit marker. The Chariot is at 2 vs mounted, -1 for Panic caused by Elephants.
With the rest of the battle raging the right flank of the Chinese army was still following a familiar pattern. The Chinese would unleash a volley of crossbow bolts, injure some more Persian horsemen and then the Persians would fall back out of range and try to make an attempt to recover in their next turn - sort of like going to confession ever Sunday after getting up to mischief after a night on the lash every Saturday.
The Persians were throwing together a hasty defensive line against the chariot and barbarian warriors's attack, as if improvising a recipe for colcannon mash with the leftovers from last nights menu. Everything was being thrown at shoring up this line, with even a Persian commander adding his impetus and personality to the fight by joining the lone elephant unit despite the not inconsiderable risk to him in the process.
The Chinese Chariots were the first to break through, their commander leading his box cart of men over the tops of the peltasts even as the Guard Halberdiers threatened to mop up the enemy with a devastating rear attack. Suddenly this looked like a very tricky area for the Persians indeed.
With table also now fast running out the Iranian horsemen had to come up with a better option than simply falling back out of range of the Oriental crossbow battalions. Swinging around in a sweeping manoeuvre they wheeled into the central part of the battlefield leaving the slow moving mixed formations of spear and crossbows training and flailing in their wake.
The elephant was still fighting on, and having successfully fought off one chariot-borne flank attack now had to endure yet another one as the Chinese General turned into its side with an crunch not seen or heard in this part of Limerick since the last game for Munster in that seasons Heiniken European Championship.
Finally this attack put paid to the elephant, but its legacy was still clearly visible in the flotsam and jetsam of the scattered Chinese forces who were now in a daze, wondering what next they had to do - other than seemingly get swamped by Persian cavalry from all sides.
The Chinese Medium Foot wing was similarly starting to dissolve under the harrying attacks of clouds of evade-capable Persian warriors. Urging themselves forward with thoughts of Father Dougal's fried cup of tea, every attempt to pin them down seemed only to result in a further fragmentation of the Chinese formation as lone units outdistanced each other yet still failed comprehensively to catch any of the evading Persian foot and horse.
The Persians were now pouring back into the centre of the board like a well-poured pint of Guinness settling in the glass, and the depleted Chinese army could seemingly do little to stop them going where they wished. All semblance of coherence had been lost as the Chinese had flailed at an enemy with the consistency of smoke in a pub garden.
The Chariot General was in the heart of this maelstrom - surrounded he had little chance of escaping a cohesion loss when enemy cavalry engulfed him from all sides. And with that loss the Han Chinese Army slipped to a "Bishop Brennan" - having been roundly kicked up the arse by the Father Ted's of Persia's own version of Craggy Island.
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
The Persians they lived on horseback
On clear tables they liked to attack
They were sure they were beat
and were thus feeling the heat
Then were shocked when they clawed their way back!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
How feckin' stupid can one may be, to advance in a haphazard line across a table wider than your army, and then to be surprised when your all-mounted army falls back and then picks you apart bit by bit? Like, that's never happened before either in history or in your previous gaming career, has it?
As a man of God, I fear that only divine intervention can rescue you from this repeated incompetence. It was also a great chance to see your other textbook mistake - failing to read the lists or rules and not realising how to defeat the enemy's scythed chariots - they ended up ripping you a real new one in this game, and even though we all know they are alottery of a weapon system, they are a lottery you can choose to buy a ticket for or not.
Can you imagine how much better this might have been if you had a better list composition, with some proper thought as to how to allocate command points to the various commands in your army? Maybe even not having those silly Impetuous warriors in one command to make yur own life almost impossible?
Turning the board to the narrow orientation throgh a more careful and considered advance is the right option of course against armies like this - I suppose you didn't really know the enemy composition before deplyment but a bit of pre-game scouting would have told you that answer very simply. Perhaps the night's entertainment and festivities will lend you an air of intellect which you clearly currently lack - let's see the outcome in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition