Rome & Enemies at PAW Plymouth 2020
Gepid vs Seleukid
After the consumption of a pasty containing the textbook combination of not quite enough meat, a few too many indeterminate vegetables and an internal temperature more befitting of an active Pacific Rim volcanic island rather than an eat-in-the-hand foodstuff and a trawl around the trade show to be tempted with replenishing my 10mm WW2 armies it suddenly was time for the afternoon game.
This time the enemy would have more, longer sticks than the devious Romans - but also possibly some cavalry as well. And certainly elephants. Yes, the textbook Successors the Seleukids would face the submariniac wrath of Gepidacia in the next round.
The lists for the Gepid and Seleukid from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at PAW Plymouth can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The battlefield was about as standard as its possible to get, with a patch of fields and plantations rather closing down one flank but the other one swept mostly clear of terrain by the clever battlefield planning and logistics department of the Gepidian Pioneer Corps.
Not quite being sure how the enemy would deply - or more accurately, which flank they would plonk their elephants on - the Gepid king had squeezed in a fairly narrow setup with the idea of extending to either flank with an initial advance.
In a radical new idea, the Gepids also decided to skilfully and gracefully dismount a handful of their cavalry to oppose the enemy elephants
L'Art de la Guerre hint - If the enemy deploys Elephants, War Wagons or fortifications you are allowed to dismount any or all of your own cavalry in response after deplyment and before the first move starts.
This isn't of course wildly historical, but as a game mechanic simply giving players this option goes a long way to offsetting the arguably 'a bit strong' anti-horsemen capabilities of these troop types and fortifications and generating proper game balance across all lists and themes.
The Seleukids had a rather unusual Parthian ally, set up with a line of Cataphracts in the centre of their line.
This was a perfect target for many of the less well equipped maniac cavalrymen of the Gepidic army and they converged from all three commands at some speed and levelled their lances to charge home against the Cataphracts as soon as they could - aiming to catch the enemy by surprise, or as much surprise as a frontal charge straight down the nmiddle of the battlefield can ever achieve!
L'Art de la Guerre hint - In ADLG you get a +1 "save" if you have better armour and lose a round of combat. Cataphacts have an advantage of 2 levels of armour over many of the Gepid Medium Cavalry, but this only translates into a single +1 "save", making Medium Cavalry just as good as the more expensive (points wise) Heavy Cavalry at fighting Cataphracts
The full metal jacket (and trousers, hats, mittens, socks and probably underpants)-wearing Parthians also knew that the chances of their skirmish screen of Light Horse bowmen shooting down the vunerable zero-protection Medium Horsemen was a key element of their best bet to make sure the inevitable upcoming combats were ones in which their Capital Troops (the Cataphracts) would enjoy the best possible upper hand.
The lightly armed bowmen urged (or more accurately were urged by their Metallic Overlords to urge) their horses forward to close range with the Geppids and to start pinging away - but possibly distracted by the risk of imminent death on the end of a Gepidic lance, the archers achieved surprisingly little success
The dismounted Gepid cavalry had, by an oddity of the rules, eneded up as the most potent infantry on the entire table being equipped with armour, swords and a fearsome Impact capability inherited from their mouted incarnation.
They were also absolutely delighted to discover a couple of old school Thracians and a Theurophoroi hiding among the olive groves and rows of vines in the protective terrain and hared towards them at full speed.
Battle of Magnesia
The neighbouring tables featured a couple of Sassanid armies which were so bloody gorgeous the official Gepid war photographer was momentarily distracted and decided to get a few quick snaps to enliven the uniformly gothically grimy countenances of his own army which formed much of the current photographic inventory of the Great Peoples Gepidic War Photography Gallery.
The Seleukids were hastily shuffling their pair of elephants around to try and make sure some of them confronted Gepid Cavalry and avoided the dismounted warriors - but with the Gepid Medium Horse converging at speed on the Parthians these Pachyderms ended up finding themselves in close proximity to their own mounted who suddenly needed their protection.
The Elephant Panic infected both friend and foe as the Gepids simply charged home into the waiting Parthians, relying on the ferocity of their Impact to blast a way through the enemy line
The dismounted horsemen were also by now in combat with the Thracians and Theurospearmen - an utterly barbarian attack which shocked the Greek Successor infantry back on their heels as the charge struck home with great fury and abandon
Gepidacious! Lances lanced, pikes stabbed, elephants trunked stuff around and tried to stand on people as the battle raged between the two fully committed lines of troops in the middle of the battllefield.
Neither was giving quarter, and both were locked and loaded onto a plan involving going straight through and over the opposition and continuing forward until the end of the world (or tabletop) was hit.
But with such excitement in the centre, the high cost and high quality Seleukid army surely must have had some eroded edges?
Yes indeed - the Gepids right flank was where the Seleukid line petered out with a handful of half-hearted Greek cavalry who were trying unsuccesfully to look like proper Companions as the gothic-style cavalry slammmed into them with ferocity and overlaps galore.
The Seleukid pikemen were getting nervous as their flank files started to feel the breeze of the Gepidian plains whispering under their petruges...
Dismounting seemed to dramatically improve the effectiveness of the Gepid warriors, as they ripped through the ambushing Seleukid mediums, giving the Thracians one of the shortest appearances on the table imaginable as Furious Charge steamrollered the Nobility's path into the plantation.
With men and horses to spare and no prospect of finding anyone else hiding among the trees, even some more of the lesser-armoured Gepid cavalry had galloped into the woodland to help out as overlaps.
This flank of the Seleukid army was now in tatters
By now the huge sweeping right hook of the Gepid army was at the extremity of it's reach across the open plains and the Seleukids were doing their best to hastily redeploy and react as the Gepids crashed into the sub-part cavalry at the extreme left of the ex-Greek Successor army.
Their slow moving pikemen were also just about getting back into the game after the wily barbarians had simply ignored them and ran for the flanks - together with the Elephants they were crushing the overly-brave Gepid horsemen who had gotten rather stuck trying to break through the Cataphracts in the Seleukid centre.
However, with Gepidacious infantry now finally also nearing the combat zone perhaps the Pikemen might come to regret breaking up their formation as a wall of solid hairy pedestrian warriors lumbered towards them gathering pace all the way?
The previous shot only featured one elephant - and here was the other, racing forward across the open plain in close conjunction with its screening infantry towards the Gepid centre.
Gepid horsemen, in a rare moment of clarity had decided that in this precise moment discretion was the better part of insane furious attacking at all times and in all circumstances.
Spending zilliions of pips the Gepid cavalry turned tail and retreated in the face of the terrifying big-eared beasts!
The grim-faced Successor Pikemen were taking their work incredibly seriously, but their mounted half-assed non-Elite Companions kinda wished the Pikemen had been a little less serious and a little more hasty as they started to collapse under the sheer weight of numbers of the countless hordes of Gepidic horsemen overlapping them in their countless hordes.
With a crash-bang-wallop (what a picture!) the Gepidic infantry announced their arrival to the battle party, complete with party hats and silly string being spurted all over the shop in a vain attempt to discomfort the enemy Elephants who were charging towards them and a date with destiny.
Despite the elephants slightly disorientating Blackburn Rovers home kit circa 1988 (after dropping a tab of acid) howdah paint job this would be a dramatic clash of the ferocity and weight of the elephant's initial charge against the stoic 4-hit resilience (and general expendability to the rest of the army) of the barbarian foot. The fact there was only 1 elephant and 5 infantry also really helped !
The Seleukid army was now starting to fully appreciate the challenges of taking on an army as numerous and downright erratically dangerous as the Gepids, especially on a near-billiard-standard open table.
Everywhere they looked, and everywhere they were not looking as well it seemed that Gepid horsemen were poised and waiting eagerly to charge home, surrounding the Seleukids with attacks from every angle which started to make them as queasy as if the entire Phalanx had shared a microwave-warmed 4-day old pasty sold to them as if it were fresh out of the conventional pastry oven this very morning.
On paper, the armies were a very similar size, but pretty much every unit in the barbarian force had the potential to charge wildly into combat and wreak hideouos damage to their opponents, whereas the Successors numbers were padded out with skirmishers and second string troops leaving their potent capital battle infantry, horsemen and pachyderms at risk of being simply overrun.
Seleukidaria's Elephant Corps had by now become utterly separated into two disparate locations, with both of the pachyderms roaming as freely across the savannah-like tabletop as their still-free cousins might do so across the dusty plains of India.
Drawn on by the taunting of retreating Gepid cavalry, the bearer of the Golden Howdah was even starting to close in on the back edge of the Gepid baseline when he was suddenly and shockingly assaulted by the still-lurking light infantry skirmish screen which had previously been tasked with saving the Gepid warrior foot from losses due to enemy shooting.
The most potent trops in the Seleukid army were outnumbered, outflanked and now taking hits from the casual afterthoughts of the far too numerous Gepids as the game slipped inexorably towards the barbarians
The rest of the Successor's Pachyderm force had seen too that the game was fast slipping away from their boys, and instead now was focussing almost entirely on securing the prize for the most charismatic photo opportunity of the entire weekend as they double-teamed with a reluctant friendly Cataphract unit to slam bodily into the solid body of Gepid infantrymen in the proper centre of the line of scrimmage.
Axes and spears, trunks and swords swung in lopping great arcs as the two forces met in a cataclysmic coming together the like of which would surely be felt in all of the pasty bakeries extending down the spine of the Lizard peninsula
The Seleukids tried to generate one last dramatic throw of the dice to see how much they could limit their imminent defeat.. but to no avail as the Successors slipped to a loss, and a first win for the Gepids!
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 Gepid Commander
At last, after a wait which was at the same time too long to bear and also only one game we have recorded the victory that my genius fully deserves. The mathematical attention I deployed to make sure that I and my forces were numerically superior to the opposition on both decisive wings was something which even a military Einstein may have sruggled to compute in advance, but to one as bright as me this solution is as obvious as a Blue Bols depth charge in a pint of Castelmaine XXXX
Ordering my horse-borne nobility to dismount and attack a half-heartedly obscured ambush on foot was even more stunning, and as an act of military skill it cemented my victory in a way which even the Roman architects of the Great Colosseum would struggle to match
By the time we had ripped apart both wings of the enemy army in a feat of arms which even the Venus de Milo would struggle to emulate, the finishing touch was surely the clever way I persuaded some more of the Gepid Nations nobles to retreat in the face of near certain death down the middle of the table against a lone elephant
Clever tactics, great list design, inspiring leadership and a dash of that innovative lateral thinking which only the smartest men around the table can generate was what won me this game - and no doubt will win me many more as well in days to come
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Incompetence seemingly runs as deep in your veins as the stench of horse sweat permeats your unwashed undergarments my barbarian accquaintance. Quite how you managed to get so embroiled with the two enemy elephants when your army can and should literally run rings around this static and pedestrian force is still a mystery to me even after reading these reports
OK, a win is a win I guess but so many of your men were again put at risk by your lack of planning and inadequate packing of enough dismounted cavalry bases. It's not like you don't have a vast pseudo gothic viking army sat there waiting for an opponent stupid enough to make taking Impetuouos medium Swordsmen instead of the Heavy Foot Viking option a sensible in-theme choice is it?
If only a handful more of these scandic warriors could have made it into the tin and been repurposed then you could have swept all before you instead of having to dance around and on occasion face the embarassment of running away even!
The bring and buy is open - why not go look for more dismounts this afternoon before the next game tomorrow eh?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition