Classical and Roman at Lisboa 2022
Achaemenid Persian vs Late Imperial Roman
The second game of the day hove quickly into view as our team slid down the table into the bottom half of the draw after our aggregate sub-par showing in the first round.
I had managed a very quick peruse around some of the big guns in the museum between games, where I managed to find possibly the only Portuguese soldier who was taller than me (and who spoke less Portuguese than I did as well).
The tournament was now really cracking on, with international gaming happening between the cannons and military artefacts as players from across Europe marvelled at how poorly the anglophone contingent could speak Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian or Catalan
That set me up well for playing another non-English speaking Portuguese player in the second round, testing my ability to speak pidgeon French and Spanish and count up to 3.
The army matchup meanwhile would see the systemically decadent Achaemenid Empire taking on the by-this-time decadent Late Roman Empire in a clash of Empires that would confuse the hell out of the Italian warriors who would surely have expected to find themselves facing a Sassanid rather than Achaemenid opponent in any sort of historical matchup. But, even so the Persian army did have a load of armoured shooting horse archers so it was close enough for government work for sure
It's Late Romans - they have all the toys in the world to choose from, and a tempting array of equipment to give to their Legions. The question is as always do you go big on the Legions and Auxilia, or do you try and model an even later army and max out on the cavalry and cataphracts to create a more mobile force just lacking in decent horse archery? The choice is yours - both are good, but trying to do both in the same army is always a mistake to be avoided if you can resist temptation
As is traditional, the lists for the Achaemenid Persian and Late Imperial Roman from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Lisboa can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
These Romans were very much of the Legions are Cool persuasion, and deployed with a massive block of tooled up dudes, flanked on one side by punchy lance-holding cavalry, between to major terrain features in which practically anything could have been hiding.
Light horse sat on the Roman left, and a whole command was either flank marching or hidden on the rather loudly rustling plantation-covered hill on the right. The Persian money was on the latter.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Romans have as expected deployed Legions between the terrain, allowing me to execute my "standard" plan of effectively refusing the middle with the Light Horse command and pushing on both flanks with the two main strike commands
There is pretty obviously an ambush of sorts on the right, but with only Roman LH on that flank there is probably a chance to force a way through anyway
If I can block the Roman Lancer cavalry into their starting position with a rapid advance from the tower the Romans may be denied use of a huge percentage of their troops and firepower right from the off
With first mover advantage the Achaemenid army hurled the Wheeled Archery Platform of Interior Decoration forwards at a rate of knots, dropping it randomly in front of the bemused Roman Cavalry choristers
Peniche, Nazare and Matosinhos! The Legions were also stalled in the starting gate, as the Persian Light Horse Command had this time been deployed in the centre and had sent its lightest horsey people forward to taunt and play with the Roman Pedestrians and pin them in their initial starting positions while the other two proper commands moved around the flanks of the terrain-created bastion in which the Romans were entrenched
Just as in the first game a huge volume of firepower was heading to the far right hand corner of the table in the shape of Immortals and Elite Satrapal Cavalry.
Azulejos! Unlike the first game however, only a thin screen of Roman light horse stood in their way - a tissue paper thin defensive line which was visibly wilting already at the mere prospect of being targetted by the onrushing Persian archery host
On the opposite flank a similarly equipped command of Persian archery was marching promptly forward as well - only to stumble across a couple of rather surprised Roman horse archers hiding on the edge of the plantation in their path.
Caldeirada and Fado! The phalanx of mobile shooters looked set to make short work of these unlucky two, while the only vaguely sensible combat troops on this side of the table (the two Chaldean spearmen) sat and waited, unkeen to engage three times their number of far better equipped and trained legions.
Late Roman Legionaries
Pasteis de Nata! The Archery tower executed an ungainly turn and started unleashing a rather paltry fusilade of hapless archery at the bemused Roman lancers, blocking their egress from the centre of the table at a stroke.
To be fair it doesn't really add much to the overall thrust of the narrative, but you get a really good view of just how many of these Museum Z-Range sculpts I managed to fit on each Immortal base, how nice the Xyston cavalry are, and how contrast paints have helped give them a proper silky pyjama sort of look as well, so I decided to keep it in anyway.
There's loads more photos of them here if you want to see what they look like from the front.
Bacalhau a Lagareiro! With Persian cavalry now flooding round both terrain anchors, the Romans were having to devote pips and command and control capability to shift some of their cavalry out to the wings to block the onrushing Persian envelopment
The Persians were not unduly bothered by this to be fair - they were more than a match for the Romans anyway, and as soon as the Sparabara managed to clear the embattled Roman LH from the plantation they would have more firepower to devote to the cavalry fight as well - the Romans were really struggling to stem the tide everywhere you looked
Piri Piri Chicken! Keeping a safe distance from the obvious ambush of Auxilia in the hilltop plantation the Immortals poured long range archery at the static Roman horsemen while their Satrapal Noble cavalry moved up to do similar from closer range.
Roman cavalry were starting to drop like flies in the Lisbon basement heat as the arrows flew
The tower-generated spell of impotence afflicting the Roman Lancers in the centre had finally been broken, and they rushed forward to try and jam themselves through the gap between The Terrain and the Tower (also the title of an upcoming novel by JRR Martin in Westeros series incidentally) and join the battle proper
Cristiano Ronaldo's Hair Gel Cabinet! This move provoked rejoicing in the Persian Scythed Chariot Corps, as they imagined an opportunity to redeem themselves after their barely mentioned ineffectual role in the first game
Persian cavalry also lurked nearby, just on the rather unlikely off chance that the confidence of the suicidal charioteers would prove to be badly misplaced
Vasco de Gama's Global Roaming Sim Card! Suddenly, to the surprise of almost no-one at all, the rustling in the hedgerows turned out not to be an unwelcome return of mid 1970's overblown pseudo-prog rock but instead a huge and Auxilia filled command of yet more Romans, boosting their combat power on the right side of the table and also boosting their army;s break point at a moment when it was starting to look seriously threatened too
L'Art de la Guerre hint - The break point of an army in ADLG is only those troops on table - flank marches and ambushes are not counted until they arrive or appear. With 8 units missing in ambush before this point in time, this particular Roman army was therefore actually far closer to breaking that I suspect its commander realised
The Roman left flank may have just witnessed a massive amount of reinforcement, but the right was in danger of being skittled away in short order by Persian archery
Bolinhos de Bacalhau! Rome's cavalry contingent suddenly realised the danger they were in as the Sparabara advanced through the plantation after wiping out the unfortunate enemy LH. Time for the Roman horsemen to put discretion before valour and skedaddle away
What's Going on Here Then?
The dual flank push has inflicted a great deal of pain on the Roman mounted contingent, with the Legions and the ambushing Auxilia still to really get into the game
The Roman baggage is at risk from both flanks and through the centre, but the Persians will still need to inflict some damage on the Legions and Auxilia to break the enemy army - the Persians themselves have only taken minimal losses so far
With the ambush only just revealing itself, and the Roman cavalry distracted either getting past the Archer Platform or trying vainly to hold back the Persian left wing, a lone Persian horse archer unit had managed to squeeze past the Legions in the middle and was making a valiant dash to loot the Roman camp.
Bola de Berlim!
As the Auxilia stepped out of their hiding places and shook twigs, apple cores and bunches of grapes from their luxuriant hairstyles the Persians simply left them to it, falling back away from the terrain and daring the Auxilia to come out to play in the open.
Launching themselves from cover they stormed the Persian Siege Tower with pace and fury, seemingly immune to or ignorant of the potentially existential threat that the Persian's Scythed Chariot now posed to the flank of their embedded Auxiliary-leading commander. Caldo Verde!
OK, maybe not. The Luxuriously Decorated Bow Platform was summarily despatched, after which the Roman Commander insouciantly shrugged off the assult of the Scythed Beast to leave him and his bodyguard in sole command of a vast swathe of the centre of the table - as in the distance the sound of a Roman baggage looting session drifted across the Iranian plain
L'Art de la Guerre hint - That seems weird, huh? Well, Scythed Chariots are ridiculously unreliable weapons of war in ADLG, just like they were in real life, so against a good quality, General-included unit the odds are actually not all that favourable for the Chariots, even with a flank attack.
Normally Scythed Chariots start at evens against almost all opponents (bar some javelin skirmishers who can dodge out of the way and do them over). Going into an enemy flank adds an extra +1 for the Chariot. The Auxilia are hit in the flank so fight at zero, but this is still the same factor of zero they would get if attacked frontally by a Scythed Beastie anyway. And of course this dude had a General included in the unit, the Auxilia also get an extra +1 too, taking it back to par.
The Auxilia were also Elite, so they add +1 to any (poor) roll of 1,2 or 3 to mitigate any "bad" outcomes a little too.
The Chariot has just one hit point so is eliminated every time it loses the combat, but if the Chariot does win it will cause an extra hit for Furious Charge, and so it can totally wipe out the 3-hit Auxilia entirely, as in the "red" outcomes in the above chart - killing the general as well. Sadly for the Persians however, that didn't happen and the Scythed Chariot was more of a threat in theory than in reality.. again much as they were in real life.
With the Auxilia now a power in the land, the Light Horse Shredding Immortals suddenly realised they were outnumbered and outmatched - and with only their actual name as Immortals to protect them against a far more skilled and dangerous combat opponent.
Turning slowly to face the new threat they loosed fleets of arrows at the cover-hugging Romans while urging their own Satrapal Noble cavalry to come back to help them as quickly as they could ride to the rescue before the Immortal tag was tested in battle
By now the mighty Legions of Rome had finally managed to find a target
Yes, millions of denarii of military technology and research was being deployed to launch an attack on the semi-peasant Chaldeans, who had been rather hoping to survive this game unscathed
Yet more well equipped Legionaries were milling around in confusion as they tried to get to grips with the smoke-like wraiths of Persian Light Horse who flittered around them like Lisbon-ese night time mosquitos in the centre of the park
The Roman army was on the brink of collapse as the Immortals sought to inflict the final blow with some accurate shooting - only to fail in every shot in their vital mission to avoid combat at any cost!
The Auxilia charged home, stunning the so-called Immortals with their Impact as the creme of the Persian army failed yet again to land a telling blow on their close combat opponents
Fortunately, as seemed to be the case throughout the game, the Persians had yet more shooting-capable cavalry milling around in useful places. Pinging off a well-aimed shot into the flank of a lone Auxiliary, the Satrapal levy cavalry inflicted the telling blow to condem the Romans to defeat!
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
Call this an Empire? These Romans clearly know nothing of the art of war, and their failure to rely on archery, their se of armoured sword-carrying infantry, and the dark arts of ambushing and subterfuge have cost them dear when faced with a real army like mine
The pace of our attacks down the two wings caught these foot-plodders out mightily, and they could not react at all. I am sure even now their military leaders will be drawing up plans to roll out many more horse-carried soldiery and exercise a pivot to mounted archery as a weapon of war
Likewise massed archery will soon replace these tedious Legionaries and the chittering classes of Rome will be engaged in learning whickerwork to sew together a load of pavises suitable for catching enemy arrows, but useless against swords and spears
There is a glorious future for the Persian Empire under my stewardship, and as history unfolds I would be surprised if this so-called Empire of the Romans gets much beyond the borders of Italy before it is folded into an Oriental map of my descendents own making
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
I fear you were aided to this victory by the over-clever ambush tactics of your opponent as much as your own plans, as it would appear that your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone so relying on the generosity of others is how your skills manifest themselves
But you have crowed so much about your own success that I fear that to hear more of your conversation would infect my brain and cause me to lose the will to live, never mind to read on. To be given a chance to play against barely 2/3 of an army is gift enough
You are not worth another word, else Iíd call you and that ludicrous bow platform both a knave of the highest order.
Thy sinís one of overestimating your own abilities off the back of mistakes made by your opponents, and that sin is not accidental, but a trade which I am sure we will see writ large in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition