ADLG World Championships at Rome 2019
Khurasanian vs Han Chinese
The next day dawned as hot and early as only a hot day in Rome in June can be. Even if your name was Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, you'd think this Roman Saturday was going to be a day for chillin' by the pool rather than engaging in brutal combat seeking your vengeance, in this life or the next.
With the whole world and ten different nationalities of opponent to choose from, as luck would have it I ended up on Saturday morning facing the coolest of the collection of (by then already) sweaty Americans, Mr Mark "call me best anglophone player at Charleroi" Crotteau and his Han Chinese army. The lists for the Khurasanian and Han Chinese from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Rome can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Han is a great, flexible army with enough options to field almost any combination of infantry types from shooters to close combat specialists. It is also blessed with a large mounted component, although arguably somewhat lacking in top-end grunt with only 2 Elite Heavy Chariots as a cutting edge. A very hard list to predict what will be in it.
With the organiser-supplied terrain in full visual effect a more usual textbook agricultural landscape dotted with fields, plantations and a transverse road across the rear of the Chinese deployment area confronted the first time on the table Version Two list for the Khurasanians as both generals digested their extensive breakfast.
List Two was much more geared towards taking down enemy infantry, with buckets of Dailami and an Elephant Death Star - and the Han had obliged by rostering in a veritable Chinese Wall of mixed shooters and swordsmen either side of a refusing cavalry centre.
In a move which shocked no-one the Han crossbow cavalry stormed forward to pin the Khurasanian centre into place, hoping to keep the lethal elephant Death Star out of striking distance of either flank of vulnerable mixed shooter/combat units.
They seemed much keener to advance into the Arab cavalry wing, which pretty much had "shoot me here" emblazoned on their banners and shields.
Realising they had no hope of achieving anything against the wall of Oriental Peoples Liberationallly Inspired Spear-waving Proletariatarian Revolutionary Pedestrian Marching Band Infantry, Khurasan's finest mounted noblemen turned and evacuated towards a safer part of the tabletop.
Han Chariots vs Enemy cavalry
A mini version of the skirmish and refuse strategy was being played out on the other flank as well, with the Buyid ally's one unit of wingmen Cavalry being sent on a delaying mission to stave off the rapacious advance of the Han Charioteers.
The rest of the Buyid command was made up of Medium Foot Dailami Warriors, very good in terrain and pretty excellent against the Chinese Communist Partys Han Proletarian Revolutionary farmning 5-Year-Plan Ultimate And Straightforward Achievability Even In A Time Of Global Warming And Drought Halberdiers facing them, but not a troop type who had much confidence of taking on Heavy Chariots.
If they could make it to the field before the Chariots made it into them they would be safe, and poised to attack the Han Proletarian Peoples Infantry in a ground of their choosing
The Communist Party...
The Han Revolutionary And Somewhat Inspired By Soviet Iconography Forces swept round in a well drilled and perfectly executed arc, piling the pressure on the lone mounted element in the Buyid command.
In the previous game the Khurasanian Caliph had cynically sacrificed pretty much his entire Abbasid allied contingent in order to give his own troops a better shot at winning the game - the Buyids knew this well, and were rightly nervous..
The inability of pedestrian spearmen and slowish-moving elephants to get close to faster moving Chinese cavalry was again proving the innate superiority of the system of Chinese over Arabic mathematics, as the opposition horsemen fell back gently.
The men from Samarkand cursed whatever idiot had failed to include any bowmen in their list as the practically naked (from an armour standpoint) Orientals danced impudently but agonisingly out of reach.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Chinese refused-centre deployment appears to have outfoxed the newly-tabled Dailami-ally version of the Khurasanian army, and their own very strong centre is floundering as it tries to decide between supporting the Dailami attack, chasing off enemy cavalry and wheeling towards the rest of the Han infantry.
The Khurasanian mounted command meanwhile is unwilling to go anywhere near an enemy with such powerful shooting, and with the spear contingent also frightened of the opposing halberdiers 2HW abilities this makes the command largely impotent, making fully 2/3 of the Khurasanian forces struggling to find a purpose.
Meanwhile the Han army is moving forward with a plan, driving off the flank guards of the Khurasanian left with their near-unopposable Chariots and cleverly drawing the enemy Death Star forwards into no-mans-land in the centre.
The elephants lost patience and charged, coming agonisingly close to doing far more damage than they had any right to against the retreating rear areas and horse buttocks of the Chinese cavalry
But, close is no cigar, especially in an era many centuries before tobacco had been brought back from the Americas, and instead the elephants had to be content with a bit of trunk-length horse's ass sniffing instead.
The Chinese were still some distance away from running out of table however, and the elephants also surely had much better things to be doing instead of chasing some uncatchable filler? Like, maybe helping their mercenary Dailami against the wall of Peoples Glorious Struggle Against Capitalist Hegemony (Especially if That Is Happening In Taiwan) Halberdiers closing in on their army from both sides perchance?
The rest of the Dailami had just about squeaked into the ploughed field, rendering them safe from the enemy chariotry but not really doing all that much to occupy a lone unit of Han Light Horse, who snuck in quickly to loose off a few volleys of arrows before no doubt hightailing it towards the now undefended Arabian camp.
Finally - a decade in the box, a transcontinental (OK, trans European) flight, a serious bout of rebasing and the 7th Edition Ghaznavid HI, sorry Dailami Warriors were finally in action
And what a way to start their illustrious careers...
The Dailami executed a near-perfect, clean full-frontal hit across their entire width slamming into a line of Chinese Peoples Glorious Revolutionary Army And Air Force (in The Future, possibly by 1775 If Trump Is Correct) Troopers most of whom were Peoples Workers Party Mixed sword/crossbowmen
These chaps counted as inferior in combat, but were Ideologically still amongst the purest believers in revolutionary communist-capitalism in the Party.
The impact-capable, elite Dailami swordsmen had even managed to dodge all of the oppositions crossbow bolts in their charge - this was going to be brutal, and short!
The opposite flank wasn't proving quite as efficient at dodging crossbow bolts, as the mercenary Dailami approached a wall of opposition made up of The Creme of the Workers of the Revolutionary Communist Military Industrial Complex But Obviously Not The American One Which Is Negative For Their Society Whereas Our Communist Version Is Pretty Cool And Has Red Stars and Other Neat Visuals (mwahahahaha!) That Work Well On T-Shirts Division foot soldiers, and who's accuracy modifier was almost off the scale.
The Dailami were peppered with high velocity bolts, and would need to be very careful when next drinking large quantities of water unless they had a plan that involved seeking alternative employment as mobile lawn sprinkler systems.
In theory their job here was just to occupy some of the enemy foot whilst the Dailami allied contingent swept away the other wing and the elephantry found any sort of opponent willing to stand and fight them at all, but even so this was dispiriting for the mercenaries.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Dailami command had managed to get in cleanly and unscathed against the combat-shy line of Chinese mixed shooters, having just made it into the protection of the uneven field before the Han chariot force swept round its flank - but the rest of the Khurasanian strike force has fallen apart under the pressure of driving off the skirmishing Han horsemen and intense Chinese shooting.
This means there is huge pressure now on the Dailami to secure a decisive and quick win, as the still coherent Chinese left wing forces seem more than capable of mopping up the disjointed Khurasanian Death Star command.
One hit inflicted and one received across a 5-wide line of combat with the Dailami being up pretty much everywhere and the Han Proletarian Infantry being inferior on a mathematical but not Ideological sense was not really what anyone was expecting.
Clearly the long years languishing in the dark had dulled the pointy bits of the Dailami's zupins, or perhaps they were still pining for the days of being cavalry-beating Ax(S) in DBMM, or Reg B HI Javelin, sword, bow in 7th?
Whatever the cause, the outcome was staggeringly bad news for a force that was supposedly inflicting a blitzkreig-like assault on an enemy to break their centre and break their army's morale in double quick order.
With the left wing attack stalling badly the now discombobulated Khurasanian Death Star was flailing wildly in the centre of the table as it sought to try and get to grips with any sort of opponent whatsoever.
Coordinating Lancers, Elephants and Impetuous foot was a tricky task, and one which was well beyond the coffee-starved leadership of the Bukharan-originated forces, especially against opponents as slippery as these Chinese cavalry.
The outcome would not be as good as the charging elephants hoped no doubt, but if they were lucky they might end up behind the left wing block of Chinese Peoples Liberation Line of Infantry as their maniacal Ghazis attacked it from the front. Perhaps.
The Chinese foot wheeled aggressively, their cavalry skirmished competently and the Khurasanians had another chance to practice their deeply perplexed expressions as the enemy forces in their well-drilled manner outfoxed and out-danced the stumble-footed Arabians for yet another turn.
A frustrated elephant is a dangerous opponent, but as long as it doesn't end up fighting anyone, frankly who cares? Certainly not the Han Peoples Proletarian But Iphone Manufacturing Huawei-equipped Infantry who were by now picking apart the dispersed components of the Khurasanian Death Star one by one.
The other flank was seeing some utterly unfeasible outcomes, as the Dailami attempted to rename themselves as Failami, losing in round after round of sustained post-impact combats against sub-par Proletarian opponents (OK, admittedly some of them were Elite Halberdiers, but hey, all of the Dailami were Elite too!).
That breakthrough that was supposed to have happened some time ago appeared not to be even on the cards - if anything the Chinese were in fact threatening to use what looked to be the most tooled up component of the Khurasanian army as the jumping-off point for a breakthrough of their own!
The Buyid general exhorted his men to show those reserves of resilience and fortitude which their long years as shepherds and goat herders in the Iranian mountains had in theory imbued them with, but nothing seemed to work - the Failami refused to play according to their own rules.
With the battle swiftly devolving into two separate flank actions the Elephants of the army of Samarkand finally managed to persuade someone to try and take them on in hand to hand combat.
The Chinese had messed around, danced the Shaolin king-fu dance, avoided combat as long as they could but finally, finally they were forced to stand and take it like men as the Arab horsemen and elephants plunged into combat to try and bring the opposition army to close quarters resolution.
The Failami were also by now starting to claw back some semblance of respectability as their better armament, quality and general coolness in the face of combat finally (yeah than f--k for that) started to eventually tell in a battle they should by all rights have won long ago if it were not for the heroics of the proletariat Chinese Peasant Workers Revolutionary Infantry inspired by flags, slogans and well articulated posters exhorting them to superhuman efforts to maintain the integrity of the Peoples Glorious Revolution before them.
Slowly, surely, natural order was being re-established.
The elephantry attack squad has finally managed to get into close combat with something they should be able to beat, never mind actually catch! Chinese horsemen, armed with crossbows are compelled by their love of the Glorious Socialist Capitalist Homeland Revolutionary Reactionary Classless Society Party to stand and take it like Chinese men on the c'hin, as the elephant hammers effectively but not decisively into the stalled horsemen and their mechanical bows.
The end of the table, and the rear of the enemy army is nigh, but with the Chinese cavalry surviving a round of combat more than perhaps they should have done that dramatic outcome is delayed until the near future - or perhaps the next Khurasanian turn?
The Failami, by sheer force of will, embarrassment and mathematically inspired statistical probability have also by now finally managed to gain something which vaguely resembles the 'upper hand' against the hapless Peoples Half Hearted Revolutionary Crossbow And Halberdier Without 2HW Capability Army of The Glorious Revolutionary Infantry Brigade.
The Chinese infantry were suddenly collapsing like paper fans, and the Dailami were dropping F's left, right and centre as they recovered - belatedly - their D-shaped prowess and dropped the Fail component of their recently adopted new name.
The Chinese Peoples Liberation Halberdier Brigade were evaporating away as the Dailami pushed forward, over, through and above the collapsing facade of Chinese infantry and breaking out into the back zone
The Chinese Army on Parade
But the Khurasanian army had problems in it's own rear areas too - and not just those caused by a diet over-rich in camels milk and short on fibrous vegetables and starch.
The wild aggression which had led the Dailami to race forwards to demonstrate their initial incompetence had also left their baggage somewhat unguarded, and only the swift arrival of the initially misdeployed cavalry command from the Khurasanian right flank was now preventing the Han Peoples "We Invented The Wheel" Chariot Division from steaming into either or both of the rear of the Khurasanian line or their mostly vulnerable baggage camp.
The sudden burst of success seen by the Dailami had also petered out as they struggled to deal with the resilience of a pair of units of Elite But Still Friends To The Regular Proletariat Han Halberdier Infantry.
These tough cookies had stemmed the impetus of the Dailami surge, and as the zupin-carryers struggled to break down their opponents resistance the countless hordes of Asiatic warriors started to envelop them from all sides, causing terrible devastation as their long handles axes and swords tore into the flanks of the frontally-engaged and occupied Dailami.
The attack, which had faltered so badly at its start, was now faltering yet again.
Drawing on superhuman reserves of strength and bravery, and probably what a sober retrospective analysis would probably regard as an even-ing out of dice across the course of the game, the Dailami firmly rejected accusations of failure for the last time and surged forward to break the resolve of the Chinese infantry facing them.
This was yet again a high water mark in the Dailami's day, but also represented a telling concentration by the official Khurasanian photographer and his drone camera crew on a part of the battlefield where things were going occasionally right for the Arab-based army of northern Iran and eastern Afghanistan.
One could only wonder what debacles and small disasters were occurring elsewhere as the excitement over the Dailami's first appearance captured almost all of the headlines and bandwidth of the upload from the digital photography drone.
What's Going on Here Then?
The right wing of the Khurasanian army has been defeated in detail after launching a ill-coordinated series of attacks on a line of Han infantry. Now the Han cavalry, who started off by falling back in the centre are returning to the fray to finish off the remnants of the Khurasanian force
The Dailami attack has wasted far too much time in a slogging match against supposedly much weaker Chinese foot on the other flank, and although it is now gaining the upper hand there seems a real risk that attrition will tip the army from Samarkand over the edge before the Dailami finish the job they were sent to do
The Han chariotry are continuing their drive towards the Khurasanian baggage camp, and few if any of the remaining Afghan and Arab cavalry seem to have the skills or appetite to oppose them
A wider panning out of the battle revealed a much less engaging picture.
The Han, effective in numbers and efficient in use of their forces had chipped away at the Khurasanian army wherever they found it wanting - and that steady erosion of men and morale had suddenly reached a telling point.
With a right flank which had been scattered by the Khurasanians themselves being defeated in detail step by step through Chinese military efficiency, and with losses mounting pretty much everywhere else on the table the Khurasanian commanders quickly enumerated their forces and came up short of sustainability.
Han vs Steppe Cavalry armies
The Han had triumphed, and the Khurasanian expedition to extend their empire eastwards in geography and backwards in time had failed, ultimately falling short after some promising moments, and in so doing mirroring the experience of the Dailami/Failami in macro. A 24/86 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 Khurasanian Commander
Way-ey, this were a reet terrible oootcome for mah army, and e'en Robson Green's singin would struggle to put a positive gloss on the halpless showin' of the Dayyyylaaaami here, although perhaps wi' a bit of help from Jimmy Nail ah meet have not gone home cryin' in me chips quite as hard like.
Ah came reet close to bein' in a position to win tha' game like, wi' me lads doin' alreeet at thu moving around part of the game, but once it came t'fghtin' likem they crumbled like a cheesecake made out of taramasalata in the noonday sun. If the Dayyyylaaaami hadda gon away and won like what they oughttta in double quick time after chargin' ageeenst the enemy infatry like, perhaps it would have been a different outcome but ah still wonder how me Elephant failed to find a target like - and if he Disney get stuck reet in it must be an odd game indeed.
If ah was a swimmin' man, which wi' such a greet pool nearby is sadly likely, there may be an upside of losing in that mah pale and spotty northern body may see some sunlight as a result of tha' game endin' reet early like, but it would've been better to stay in the dark and see the Arabian Geordi wave stormin' this game in reet proper short order like. But after the Failami had their say, things were as grim as minesweeping a bottle of Newcastle Brown t'find out that some spanner had used it as an ashtray like.
Ah hope mah Dayyyylaaaami disna' fail any more, as otherwise they may have a long old time locked back in the drawer like. Aht least its almost lunchtime though. Oh well, haway th' lads!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Oh my lord, the old and familiar classice of overly relying on the long-unused and nicely painted troops to outperform their actual capabilities, linked inexorably with the other favourite of trying to blame the dice for your own incompetence!
To a less biased observer, this game looked mostly lost at deployment, with the most potent component of your army, the Death Star, facing off against enemies who it had no chance of ever catching and engaging. And, to add insult to injury, this was blatantly obvious - so obvious in fact that you had fallen not only for the same trick, but against the same army, and even against the same Essex Miniatures Han Chinese Mounted Crossbowmen who had done exactly the same to your Assyrian army at Patras in Greece only a couple of months previously!
You actually got over-excited just to put the Dailami down, and then expected that their shiny-ness would simply be enough to coast you to victory - when instead the game was won by a more thoughtful opponent who had the temerity to actually have a plan to deal with your army, whereas you simply had a plan to put some figures on the table and take photos.
I will however grudgingly admit that their initial combat performance against the inferior mixed enemy formations wasn't exactly stellar, but your post-event retelling of the narrative has also carefully omitted the fact that some of their combats were against Elite Halberdiers - so it was not quite as easy as you claimed. Any in any case, the horlicks on the other flank was just staggeringly badly handled. I imagine there wil be an even greater expectation of luck from the Dailami in the next game?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition