Rome & Enemies at PAW Plymouth 2020
Gepid vs Sassanid Persian
The incessant barrage of pasty-eating continued throughout the lunchtime session, with a rare foray into cheese and onion being a mandatory option in an era in which the standard meat and indeterminate vegetable choices were already pre-consumed by the hordes of other gamers perambulating slowly around the trade hall.
In terms of battle activity, with two Greek-type armies despatched and one Roman army succumbed-to, the Gepids last game of the weekend was against a stunningly well-painted mostly Aventine Miniatures Sassanid army. The lists for the Gepid and Sassanid Persian 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 horse-mounted desert dwelling Empire of the Sassanids was won from the saddle in the broad open plains of Mesopotamia, and in keeping with that narrative they too had chosen to collaborate with the Gepid plan by creating a battlefield that was almost denuded of all terrain yet again.
With the sound of Gepidic rejoicing floating across the plain, the Persians soon realised that they in fact needed to bunch up together on one side of the playing field if they were to avoid the fate of the last two Successor armies to be swarmed by the lancers of Gepidacia
The Sassanid army was small, but of the utmost quality - and their Asarvan (the cavalry formerly known as lightbulb-hatted Clibanarii) advanced proudly across the steppe-like playing surface keen to start shooting
Shooting was only of course part of their plan - equally important was to then start falling back imperiously against an unsubtle Gepid advance as they looked to draw the barbarian lunatics onto the deadly Super Sassanid Death Star with its Elephants and Dailami
Width was the SupercallifragilisticGepidalidocious ally of the Gepids in this game, and spreading their army into probably a few too many groups the hairy horsemen and even hairier unshaven pedestrians drove forward in a wide arc.
The line of Gepidic horsemen were now extending past the ends of the Sassanid forces in all directions as they marched across the Persian plain with dreams of loot, conquest and an early get-away back up the A30, M5 & M4 back to London at the forefront of their minds.
The ornate trappings of the Persian Cataphracts swayed gently in the south-western breeze as the two sides seemingly hurled towards each other, both apparently more than satisfied with the match-ups along the future and obvious line of scrimmage.
Very Clever (and very Posh) people discuss the Sassanids (audio only)
Gepidacious! As if at some secret signal, but actually because it was the first time the Gepids had been in charge range, everyone launched themselves forward and both armies slammed together in a mighty cataclysmic melee the like of which the historic empire of Persia had never seen since that rhino thing charged in Zack Snyders 300.
On the Gepid right the Sassanids had worked out they were outmatched and outnumberd, and had cunningly decided to evade away from the uncontrollable charge of their hirsute gothic foes.
Sadly for the Saussages, they did the classic wargames mechanism of rolling down whilst the pursuing Gepid cavalry rolled long.
The end result was traumatic in the extreme for the cavalry from the lands of the banks of the Tigris - slammed in the rear by a cavalcade of the somewhat lightweight plastic Gripping Beast and heavier metal Footsore Miniatures horsemen the Sassanids were mown down in a blur of hooves, swords, lances and all round general gothic-styled nastiness
With barely a whimper the Sassanid Asarvan making up the entirety of the Persian army's left wing were removed utterly from the table.
Leering down from on high, a ghostly Sid James thought back to the days of Carry On Cleo, channelled his inner Julius Caesar and muttered "looks like they got caught right up the Asarvan" before chuckling filthily to himself as a spectral Kenneth Williams raised a disdaining eyebrow in the background.
Now only the other near-permanent residents of the stygian depths of the Sassanians barracks in a former paper-filing storage box would be in any sort of position to admire their sumptuous painting and fabulous use of perfectly blended-in LBMS shield transfers, at least until the next competition
Anyway, here we are again as Persians this time, urging you to chill out. We're sure this situation can easily be remedied if we all just stay calm..
Where the evaporated Asarvan had once proudly stood there was now just open space - and with it a horse-box full of shocked and somewhat leaderless Dailami left floating in open terrain
Faced with this cornucopia of targets the Gepids gladly siezed the initiative by the scruff of it's neck and gave it a right good shaking, turning inwards and overrunning the scattered elements of the Sassanid left flank as they wondered what had just happened.
On the opposite flank the brightly-clad and ornately decorated Sassanids were faring somewhat better against what was very much a more second-string arrangament of Gepidic forces.
Fighting back resolutely the Asarvan here had managed to hold the line against an enemy who were only in part Heavy Cavalry, and more importantly were being forced to fight the Persians frontally rather than from behind. But, even as the Sassanian Elite dug in for the long haul, ever-more Gepid cavalry were flooding round their flanks and zero-ing in on the Sassanid flanks and their Zoroastrian Fire Temple of army-specific baggage.
Rise & Fall of the Sassanid Empire
The once-proud Sassanid formations had been ripped apart by the speed and ferocity of an utterly Gepidacious barbarian assault
Already the current custodians of the Great Sun Disk of Zoroaster were starting to realise that some extreme heroics may well be needed to salvage even a modicum of pride from this battle for the honour of Sassanian nobility.
Urging their impressive and well-decorated (with skillfully blended-in LBMS transfer logo-bearing blankets) Elephant corps forward was their only solution. The elephants hastily charged toward any target they could find, leaving the Gepids solid looking infantry formations quaking in fear and fervently hoping their mounted overlords would hurry up and finish off both wings of the enemy army before they had to roll too many anti-elephant dice in combat
Disorientated, confused, not knowing where to turn and at every direction seeminlgly facing a vista of the destruction of their imperial ambitions the Sassanidn army was trying it's best, but it's best was no match for the sheer frontal ferocity of the gothic hordes.
Even the briefest respites where Asarvan fought back and held the line did little for the Persians overall position other than fix their men in place ready for yet more Gepiian charges to find them from all points of the compass
With their left flank ripped to shreds, their right in little better shape and their centre hammered backwards, the Sassanians collapsed. A decisive win for the Gothic tribes to round out the weekend on a 3 & 1 record.
That's the end - so 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 solid win delivered through the excellent combination of simply advancing in a huge long line and attacking everything in our path and then rolling the right dice at the right time. It was a shame in some ways to see those sassanids go back into their darkened room, but to be fair after the beating they got from the horsemen making up my specialist lance-armed dressage team they probably needed some time in the aforementioned darkened room to get their confidence back together before their next outing
Simply put, the aggression and width of the Gepid army makes it a surprisingly potent match for the Sassanids, and one which a Persian army which like this one has gone down the small but high quality route has great trouble in answering in the affirmative.
With three vistories and what in retrospect looks like a wild outlier of a negative result in Game 1 this is pretty much a perfect weekend apart from the rare moments of imperfection which sullied it a little from time to time.
OK, the African Vandals have probably a better list than this one, but in this theme they were not allowed, and I have led them into combat before so hey ho, this is still a great weekend of dice and combat in the glorious south west.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Finally an opponent who your army was able to beat based on list composition and the simple expedient of being almost twice as wide in combat troops - and this time even I must admit that things did work out.
The dramatic fashion in which the Sassanids collapsed after your charging horsemen hit those Asarvan in the rear was something to see - a whole command evaporating in a single turn.
At least you have some time to sneak around the trade show and pick up some more stuff you don't really need - so we will no doubt see some of your hapless painting in the near future.
I look forward to a less mon-dimensional army in the next tournament.
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