Rome & Enemies at PAW Plymouth 2020
Gepid vs Seleucid
After a night of wanton carnage across a range of pubs at the heart of Englands Seafood Coast, the second and fully civilized day of PAW 2020 hove into view like Drake's fleet returning to Pymouth harbour after doing whatever it was that he did (possibly sailing round the world or beating the Spanish - either will do).
The third opposition of the weekend were yet another Seleukid list, this time with a host of classic 25mm era figures making their way onto a table for the first time in probably decades as part of an ADLG army, The lists for the Gepid and Seleucid 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 Successors this morning had clearly assumed that the sensible way to build a Gepid army would be to max out on the Impetuous foot, and in response declined to bring much if any terrain - a strategy matched by the Gepids, with the end result that the game was played on a billiard-table style battlefield which suited the 'we're wider than you' approach of the impetuous Gepidic horsemen to a T.
The core of the Successor army was a massive phalanx, and as the Gepids deployed to gallop across the open plain their own handful of barbarian pedestrians were immediately caught in two minds.
Should these heavyweight barbarian infantry, bristling with spears, axes (and other possibly anachronistic weaponry given their provenance as Old Glory Dark Age Scots and Viking-type figures pretending to be Gothic foot of some centuries earlier), seek to avoid the Pikemen for as long as possible so the mounted component of the Gepid army would have ample time to work the flanks, or would it just be easier and save a load of time and thinking to just pile on in there and end up as the heroes of the army by taking full advantage of Furious Charge to rip the Phalanx a new one?
Selukos' pseudo-Companions had expected to be sweeping round the flanks of a turgid line of unwashed enemy infantry and so had started their game detached from their coherent infantry centre.
Instead a wall of Galloping Gepidacian Goodness now faced them, spitting insults from horseback as they closed rapidly in on the non-trouser-wearing Successor horsemen. The Gepid cavalry knew this was their main chance and attempted immediately to get into the faces of the Asiatic Greeks, causing the Not-Companions to rapidly wake up to the idea that they may be the outflanked rather than the outflankees in this particular battle if they were not both careful (which was possible) and more numerous (which frankly it was probably by now more than a little late to redress).
On the opposite flank the Selelukid Death Star had already realised that it too was destined to be the outflanked - but the lumbering yet devastating block of Thracians and Elephants didn't really need to get round anyone's flanks as it was more than capable of simply advancing through and over most potential enemies it could ever expect to see.
The Gepids had taken full advantage of the dismounting rules yet again, and matched the Death Star with their own horse-free ferocious newly minted infantry base for base.
The Companions shuffled up next to their Phalanx as the Gepids swept forward and extended past their frontage out to the open wings of the bald table.
Hairy infantry had too many targets, or more accurately were misaligned with the full Phalanx and so dangerously split into two lumps.
One was aiming for Pikes, the other had the unenviable task of neutralising and blunting part of the line of Companions in order to free up even more impetuous horsemen for the width and outflanking assault.
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The Gepids were eager for battle, or to translate that into proper wargaming speak, had a round in which their limited command and control capability was overstretched by an excessively complex plan.
The great battle horns sounded and the first wave of barbarian charging horsemen smashed into the Seleukid cavalry in a half-hearted and badly coordinated piecemeal attack the like of which was seemingly inevitable given the overall over confidence and lack of competence of it's comanders.
Things looked much better organised on the opposite flank, where the Gepid dismounts had managed to pretty much align themselves against the Death Star, leaving a massive slab of Gepidic cavalry to thunder down the very edge of the board.
An extremely nervous unit of Gallic mercenary cavalry shivered in the February morning chill as they conotemplated the task in front ot them of occupying such a vast barbarian horde for as long as they could...
Gepidacious! With a step to the left and a feint to the right the Successor Death Star undertook a partial Saucer Separation and launched itself at the Gepids in close coordination with the eager Phalangites.
Suddenly, from a game of movement the table turned to close quarters fighting all along the line. Dice, not measuring sticks now became the dominant instrument of decision.
As the sounds of melee escalated into a crescendo which rattled the windows of the sports hall in which this epic combat was taking place, the full width of the Successor army committed itself to combat
Phalangites, still revelling in the freedom to operate on table as classic 25mm infantry in a proper competition, gaimed impetus and leaned forward into combat against the hordes of gothic warriors who's slight advantage in on-table height suddenly seemed irrelevant when set against the tree-trunk-like pike shafts of the old school deeply packed phalanx
Somehow, despite their countless numbers, the Gepids had conspired to gat drawn into combat before their full width was deployed - Seleukid skirmishers snuck back into the line to help their Phalanx with overlaps and advantage.
In a carbon copy of the first game the dismounted Gepids made short (as in immediate) work of the Thracians, stripping the Death Star of most of it's vowel sounds and leaving the remaining elephant-shaped consonants as a particularly tricky Countdown Conundrum which the Successors now realised they needed to solve before the 30 second deadline ran out and Gepid maniacs overran their ragged line.
The size advatage the new, mostly plastic Gepids had in the cavalry battle on the opposite wing was seemingly having little effect as the teeny-tiny true 25mm Companions tossed off the barbarian attack with the sort of insouciance and disdain normally reserved for anyone who orders anything other than simply a "traditional" for their lunchtime pasty.
The Gepids with on this flank was struggling to benefit their attack as Scythian horsemen tempted the barbarians into a series of fruitless charges whilst the Gepid commander embedded himself in combat, making him too busy to call back his pursuing horsemen
The Death Star was in complete dissarray, with only a couple of Elephants swimming in the murky and decidedly fishy-smelling soup of Gepid cavalry which now threatened to drown the entire right flank of the Seleukid army.
However, Impetuous Cavalry are far from the ideal troop type with which to finish off elephants, even isolated and surrounded, so this was no sure fire thing for either side just yet.
This battle may have looked to be over numerically, but fighting from their pachyderm-back redoubts the Successor mahouts and howdah-denizens had their backs to the wall and were not going to go down without a fight
One elephant down!
One elephant striking back and hurling its assailants bodily off the edge of the table!
But even so, the Seleukid army was seeing its ranks thinned at an alarming rate, and in a battle of attrition the Gepids knew they held a far bigger hand of cards.
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SupercallifragilisticGepidalidocious! The Gepidic horsemen urged their reluctant steeds forward yet again in another brave yet dangerous series of charges against the last surviving beast of destruction.
The Seleukid commander was now committed to assist his pachyderms, with everything else under his command pretty much wiped from the face of the earth
Attrittion seemed to be falling far more heavily on the Gepids on the opposite flank, where height-disadvantaged metal troops were using their additional decades of experience to quietly and methodically cut a swathe of destruction through their gigantic yet pliable plastic opponents to gain the upper hand for the Successor forces.
But, even here, the Seleukids could not win without taking some punishment.
The Companions had held up the Gepid horde of horsemen and protected the flanks of their Phapanx but in the process the inevitable wear and tear of fighting off such a huge enemy force had taken it's toll.
With a flurry of losses the Seleukid army collapsed 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 Gepid Commander
A carbon copy of the previous match, but against a smaller foe with a harder centre and softer wings is a great way to ease oneself into the secnd half of a 4-game competition in much the same way as stewed swedes and carrot can ease itself out of a poorly-crusted and pocket-pressed pasty to the undoubted detriment of ones pantaloons.
To have greated width is a blessing from god, or so many have inferred to me in certain circumstances and here it proved yet again to be vital and important - so fortunate indeed that I had the foresight to see this opportunity and not only plan for it but then execute it flawlessly.
Rounding out the perfection of genius which was this battle plan was a rigorous attention to prosecuting the attack, and the way I inspired my men to such feats of military skill is testament to my own abilities as a speech writer and great orator - skills which do not translate to the tabletop, but which the dice gods clearly recognise and give great rewards to those who exercise them
With a successful template for guaranteed victory I can now look back on that first game yesterday as an accidental abberation, a statistical anomaly or just one of those things. Victory is mine from hereon in.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
A veritable repeat performance of the previous game in which you seemingly managed to settle for repeating your previous tactics whilst making no effort at all to improve upon them
On such an open table the outcome was going to struggle to be in doubt, and with more than ample time in the 4-game weekend format you had an opportunity to get your men and horses out wider, spend more effort enveloping the flanks and minimising your casualties - but no, an attack which started to look like it would try to focus on the wings but which through bad deployment and an over eager rush to battle ended up hurling cavalrymen to their doom against the hardest parts of the enemy army
Your barbarian hordes are fierce but ill disciplined, and so as a general you need to rule with an iron fist - not encourage the enemy to punch you in the face with one of their own.
Lets see if you have learnt anything by the final and next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition