Classical & Roman in Limerick 2018
Han Chinese vs Ptolemaic
The night in the middle of the event was warm - even for Ireland - and in celebration the good (and more shady) people of Limerick were outside in the streets pretending to be Southern Europeans. But with more fried food and beer, and the ghostly hand of Ed Sheerin hovering over every fretboard on every guitar in every bar.
Despite the real and serious risk of being assailed at any moment by inhumane versions of Galway Girl we however had managed to find a proper restaurant, marking a rare curry-free weekend in the world of wargaming and had scoffed down a decent steak and copious volumes of pretentious craft ales. And some cheap stuff as well. And then a few more.
Retiring early to bed before it got too dark (yeah right) set all of us up for a hearty breakfast of artery-clogging fried products in the morning, and another happy and cheerful interaction with the hotel reception staff before heading to the home of Munster Rugby yet again.
The morning saw the popularity of L'Art de la Guerre take firm root in Ireland, as an additional player joined the event after drifting past the day before and being roped in to play today!
My opponent Tommy however was more experienced having been perusing the rules and dabbling in the game for some months as a refugee from DBMM, and the Han Chinese would be taking on in this game a Ptolemaic army, for which the lists, as well as all the other lists from the games at Limerick can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Ptolemaic is a textbook Successor army, with the advantage that many of its key components are diald up to the max, especially the Pikemen who can be fielded either as Average or as Mediocre. This allows a big solid slab of +2 combat factor infantry to be hurled at an opponent whilst the Death Stars and Companions do their thing on either flank in support.
After a quick flirt with the idea of buying a water wheel and accomanying millhouse which by now we had decided may in fact have been carved out of a chunk of reactive armour from a Leopard 2, the game began with a table properly teed up for a Successor pike army to do its thing.
Pikemen were set up in the centre with a couple of elephants and supports on one wing and a wall of Companions and other cavalry on the other. The Chinese response saw the Heavy Infantry command preparing to tough it out and rely on their 2HCW against the pikes in the middle, with the Mediums on the right ready to push though the terrain to try and outflank the enemy pike
This of course left only the 2 Chariots on the left flank to try and hold up the Ptolemaic mounted wing - and with a rapid advance by Ptolemy's light horse along the extremity of the board immediately the Chariots were being pressed into anti skirmisher duties rather than gearing themselves up to fight real troops in the centre.
Some bloke talks about the Ptolemeys
The Ptolemaic pikemen, screened by a troop of javelin armed light foot apparently protected by giant M&M's, raced forward at an incredible pace, putting paid to any thoughts the Han might of had of doing anything more complex than simply standing and taking it on the ch'in (see what I did there?)
With enemy cavalry also screaming down alongside the pikemen on their left, the Han Heavy Infantry were compelled to drift leftwards themselves or risk seeing their flanks overrun by horse before the pike even hit. This in turn drew Medium Foot halberdiers and Southern Tribal warriors into the open ground in front of the pikemen leaving the mixed sword/crossbow formations to face off the enemy elephants in the rough
Like a single malt Whisky inspired by Louis Walsh's overheated cup of tea, crossbowmen pinged furiously at the onrushing Greek horsemen as the levy looked around nervously for the support of their Chariots.
But the Chariots were by now some way off. At least they had drive away the enemy skirmishing horse, but at the expense of leaving the areas of the table where real combat was likely to happen.
Ptolemy's Companions were not messing around - not wishing to be shot at any more times than strictly necessary they hammered into the line of Chinese infantry and levy, lances couched and screaming terrible Greek or Egyptian (probably a mixture of both?) war cries as they charged in.
The enemy elephants and Thracians were equally enthusiastic and wasted no time at all getting stuck into the line of Chinese medium infantry and crossbow cavalry lining the edge of the rough ground. The Ptolemaic attack was blisteringly fast, and they had caught the Chinese not fully deployed to receive them.
Unfortunately for the Ptolemaics, their speed of advance was not matched by their fortune with the dice and a rather fortunate series of initial combats soon saw hit markers sprout almost all along their line as they came to a juddering halt against a Chinese wall (see what I did there?) of resistance.
Things were getting as sweaty as Conor McGregor's armpit as halberds swung through the air on the end of their long poles and the Han infantry cut a swathe through the shellshocked elephant corps, evaporating them almost to a pachyderm in only a couple of rounds of combat. Suddenly the possibility of sweeping round the flank of the pikemen looked on again, as it was only a couple of units of Thracians now standing between China and the Pikes.
On the opposite flank the charge of the Companions had also faltered at the first hurdle as the Chinese Heavy Infantry stood firm with their support factors and overlaps helping stem the tide of maniacally advancing horseflesh.
Holes appeared in the Egyptian line as Xystophoroi fell from their saddles. Inspired by the proud Celtic spirit of Bishop Brennan's overheated pet sheep, the Han infantry stepped smartly up to plug them, preparing for flanking attacks in a subsequent turn.
As the Pikemen geared themselves up for their own phenomenal 6-wide charge the last remnants of the Ptolemaic left wing were hanging on grimly against the Chinese swordsmanship. 2HCW on 2HCW is a deadly fight, and only the presence and contribution of Ptolemy's General was stemming the Asiatic tide.
With a telling crunch the Phalanx went in against 3 Heavy and 3 Medium units of Chinese infantry in a solid line. This would be a decisive clash, and even though their flank guards had all but collapsed the Egyptian Successor infantry knew that here still represented a chance to smash through the heart of the enemy army.
Yet again however the dice gods did not look favourably on the men of Egypt. The Successors had won decisively on one file but suffered setbacks on all 5 of the others - turning the next round of combats in favour of the Chinese army by knocking factors off the Pikemen all along the line.
The Han medium foot were swinging round from the Pikemen's left, seeking to add injury to the insult they had just been served up by the dice. As the Limerick sidestreets echoed to the footsteps of Liam Brady's shambolic plastic glasses, the Ptolemaic general who had been leading the line on this flank was reduced to the ignominy of fleeing with a unit of Light Foot as the Chinese swept forward towards the Ptolemaic rear.
With both flanks collapsed and a terrible first round of combats for the Phalanx as well the writing was well and truly on the wall for the army of Egypt. And so, with another flurry of dagger-axes and Elite swordsmanship, it did come to pass and the army of Ptolemy crumpled to defeat. It had attacked fiercely, but the dice had not matched the ferocity of their army's aggression. The Result is a "Father Ted" for Han China - and a "Bishop Brennan" for the Pikemen from Egypt!
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 Ptolemaics had plenty of Pike
And charged forward, so keen for the fight
But the Pike arrived late
And their dice they weren't great
So it's no Chinese take-home tonight
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
My lord, you were lucky in this one - the sheer force with which those pikemen steamed into your halberdiers was a sight to behold, and it could all so easily have been a very different outcome with the Pikemen barely stopping on their way through your infantry towards your baggage.
Likewise, the charge of the Greek cavalry was another risky moment where the pace and aggression of your opponent nearly undid your plans to mince around and do some clever stuff which your poor command structure in any case meant was way beyond the capabilities of your three Generals to orchestrate
If the enemy had refused the flank with their elephants a little, and tied their three commands together so when they all hit your line they were together rather than staggered all of your intentions would have been swept away - but the pacing of the game did go this time in your favour, and that was then followed by the pacing of the dice as well which fell well for you throughout the game too.
I'm not sure whether these good dice foretell a story of bad or continuing good luck in the next game, but I'm sure we will all find out soon
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition