ADLG World Championships at Rome 2019
Khurasanian vs Alexander The Great
The third game of the day came along in no hurry at all, hot on the heels of a punishing series of poolside aperitif's and a spot of sunbathing in the warm Roman sunshine. Suitably refreshed we returned to the stygian darkness and vaguely air conditioned gaming hall to take up what surely must have been a mid table position, with one win, one mutual destruction and one loss.
For the 4th game of the weekend Khurasan's opponents were the geographically plausible but temporally incompatible army of Alexander The Great. The lists for the Khurasanian and Alexander The Great 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.
Alexander - one of the very solid armies, with a good range of allies to shake things up in a two-list event. Against a seemingly cavalry-led Arab horde I would have certainly chosen an Indian ally, and that was what my opponent did too.
The table was a right mishmash of forests, plantations, brush-covered hills and general clutter all of which managed unusually to fall into significant areas of the table.
This was either great news for the terrain-hugging Dailami, or would mean my army would be bashing itself against pikemen in a series of narrow defiles between the terrain - or so I thought!
Instead my opponent sought to outwit possible both of us simultaneously by only deploying one of his three commands on table, consisting of a pair of well-separated Death Stars.
Three Ambush markers over behind a hill to his right in the asiatic jungle in which we were fighting seemed highly likely to contain at least one more command - presumably the Indians given the terrain they were hidden in - leaving a probable flank march for me to deal with as well.
With no sort of skirmish screen to delay the advance of the Arab forces, the men from Samarkand raced across the empty bits of the board towards the only opponents they could see and also the ambush markers representing the ones they couldn't.
Keen to be sure that the markers obviously representing an Indian Allied Command did indeed represent an Indian Allied Command, the first action of the battle saw a lone unit of Arabian cavalry brave the possible arrival of the flank march and rush down the side of the battlefield to take a peek behind the ambush-festooned hill.
Unsurprisingly to everyone the Indians duly appeared, although perhaps they were seeking to still maintain some element of surprise and confusion by disguising themselves as Burmese multi-crewed elephantry.
The Khurasanians however were not fooled.
The Indians stuttered forward, crossing the brow of the hill and waving their trunks at the Khurasanians in a disturbingly inappropriate metaphor for a gaming venue with its own swimming pool.
Quite what they had achieved by starting behind the crest of the hill at the back of their own deployment area was hard to fathom, especially with a flank march that this same Indian command would presumably need to be ready and in place to support (by rushing forward and engaging my army frontally) also coming on this flank. Anyway, their advance gathered pace as they crested the rise and lumbered into view.
Alexander at Gaugamela
On the opposite flank one of the pair of Alexandrian Death Stars had undergone a sci-fi franchise-busting (JJ Abrahams notwithstanding) Saucer Separation in the face of a possible multiple incoming photon torpedo assaults by units of Arab cavalry who were busily circumnavigating the dense forest terrain and seeking to surround the isolated pocket of Alexandrian pachydermary.
One unit of peltasts made a dash for some brush to try and slow the outflanking sweep of the Arabs, whilst the rest of the Death Star chuntered forward towards a date with Destiny and Dailami.
What few Alexandrians were on table were by now spread like a Kashmiri street beggar spreads ghee on a chapati, thin and sloppy and trying too hard to cover far too great an area with the resources availabe to them. With so many tempting targets spread over such a wide area the Khurasanian army was now dithering over which resources to allocate to overwhelming which Death Star first.
As the first-mover advantage of the Khurasanians collided with the almost-too-far-apart to exercise command and control properly deployment of the Alexandrian army the men from Northern Greece suddenly must have realised that their baggage train, brought so painstakingly across the deserts of Iran, was already something the Khurasanian forces were eagerly eyeing up for a spot of imminent looting.
Attacking the Indians was a much simpler task - the Dailami were confident enough to just walk forward in a line realising that they almost certainly had enough frontal combat power and width to overrun the similarly fragmented Indian command even if it chose to sit uphill and wait their arrival.
The unarmoured and combat-unskilled bowmen of the Hindu Kush were effective shooters, but at close quarters they could not really hope to stand up against Buyidia's finest.
It would take some spectacular episodes of Failami dice-based incompetence to not take advantage of this situation and restore some national pride.
What's Going on Here Then?
The frighteningly small number of troops deplyed by the Alexandrians are already at risk of being overwhelmed by the onrushing Khurasanian army, which even allowing for the dense jungle terrain has managed to outflank the enemy Death Stars with a rapid cavalry sweep down the right flank.
On the Khurasanian left the Indians have effectively forfeited the advantages of their uphill position by splitting their line into at least 3 separate sections, and have sent their best unit, their elephant mounted general and his escorts, off on a wild goose chase to hunt down a lone unit of Dailami cavalry.
The Dailami infantry are now driving forward, confident that they are significantly better than the units they are facing even when conceding the advantage of fighting uphill.
On the extreme right of the Khurasanian line a detachment of mounted Afghan warriors had now managed to navigate the tricky pathways through and around the dense jungle, and had appeared like dervishes on the flank of what passed for a (lets just say "dotted") line upon which the Alexandrians had anchored themselves.
The Alexandrian army had little here to delay the onrushing Khurasanian cavalry wing, and soon a Death Star-detached formation of peltasts found itself coming under sustained cavalry archery from the men who counted the Sassanids amongst their antecedents.
Great Things to come out of Bukhara
With the other Alexandrian Death Star now fully occupied by the Ghazis and the lone elephant in Khurasanian service, the blocks of arab-style spearmen found themselves freed up to go Indian hunting.
Joining the advancing Dailami they piled ever-more excessive amounts of pressure on the already beleaguered Indian warriors, who must have been thinking that they should have just stayed in ambush behind the hill rather than emerging to face a rapid enemy advance coming at them from multiple attack vectors.
This Khurasanian and Buyid pressure in turn started to force the opposition infantry to separate from their elephants in order to try, unsuccesfully, to keep any sort of lid whatsoever on the multiple threats the overwhelming numbers of fast moving, hard-hitting Khurasanians and their allies were now bringing to bear.
Both Alexandrian semi-disassembled Death Stars were soon engaged fully by aggressive and hard-charging elements of the Khurasanian military's most potent infantry.
Mercenary Dailami and ferocious Ghazi warriors from the harsh mountainous border regions of Samarkand slammed into the sort-of-Greeks, overwhelming them with the impetus of their initial charges.
As if this was not enough trouble, the outflanking force of Afghan cavalry had now easily bypassed the Alexandrian peltasts half-hearted attempt to block them off and were racing past the insubstantial obstruction to pile even more flank-shaped pressure on the enemy Death Stars.
Targets were seemingly everywhere for the Moslem warriors, and it was more a question of deciding which ones to go after first which was now taxing their officers brain cells.
Magically, suddenly, and out of a cloud of dust the deeply underwhelming flank march arrived.
A pair of Companion Cavalry launched themselves onto the table, collaborating with their fellow Indian allies to pin and crush the lone Dailami cavalryman who had first discovered the Indian ambush.
The loss of such a brave unit was a cause for some sorrow, but in diverting one of the Indians' pair of elephants away from confronting the Dailami infantry, and at the same time seemingly grabbing the full attention of the potentially potent components of the enemy flank march meant that this loss of one cavalry unit would take the thick end of 20% of the enemy points out of the game - this was by no means without value to the Khurasanian army.
The rest of the flank march was an altogether more predictable Skythian horse archer, tasked with the mission of making a run to capture the enemy baggage
Eschewing a chance to do any actual fighting - probably wisely - the mounted archers made a fast run at the Khurasanian baggage camp, sending the camel herders and baggage guards into a screaming frenzy of fear as they hurled their hands in the air and tried to surrender.
The Alexandrian left flank - such as it was - had now almost collapsed under the vastly outnumbering tide of elements from the Khurasanian army.
Cavalry, infantry and Dailami warriors all combined to outwit and outfox the static and lumbering beasts and their supposedly protecxtive screen of infantry by simply running round their flanks and - on occasion - smashing them frontally as well.
The Indians ensconced on the brushy hill were now also discovering exactly how being outmatched in both numbers and quality could prove to be a taxing military conundrum.
The Dailami knew how far away the flank march had arrived, and realised they could take their time to dismantle the Indian defences unit by unit and still hopefully end up with some late evening pool time before the full 5 course tasting menu dinner hove into view later that night.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Alexandrians are now in combat with almost all of their on-table troops, but everywhere they are engaged the Khurasanian army has advantage of numbers, capability and often also outflanking positions. The arabo-Persian cavalry sweep down the right flank has been especially deadly to the exposed left flank of the Greek Expeditionary army.
The Indians facing the Dailami are in even deeper trouble, with isolated elephants at risk of being almost instantly overwhelmed by the fierce Afghan hillmen. Meanwhile their elephant mounted general and his escort continue their efforts to be out of sight of the growing debacle the rest of their command is now facing.
Even the belated arrival of the small Alexandrian flank march seems unlikely to have much if any impact on a game which is rapidly closing out in favour of Khurasan
Alexander's left wing was gone, disappearing in a flash of steel and a thunder of hooves as the embattled, part dismantled Death Star imploded under attacks from more different sides than it had even realised that it possessed.
The Khurasanians fled from the exploding cloud of wreckage with Millenium Falconry-like speed, leaving themselves with control of practically all of the on-table real estate - they now needed to hunt down and catch enough component parts of the widely spread Alexandrian forces to match that territorial superiority with a solid point-scoring victory
The Dailami launched their attacks with the force of men who knew they had disgraced themselves in two previous games and were fully committed to not repeating the same mistake three times in a row.
And they had lots of overlaps too, making the odds much better. The Indian command could see the writing on the wall, and didn't much like the messaging it was sending out.
With the tattered remnants of the Alexandrian force now almost entirely swept from the tabletop the path became suddenly clear for the Arabian archers to make a dash for the somewhat ad-hoc-ly assembled enemy baggage camp.
Dodging a handful of surviving opposition light infantry, the bowmen smartly shimmied and sidestepped their way to a looting spree which would see the treasures looted from Persepholis returned to the possession of the Iranian Empire!
The Dailami overran the Indian elephant and careened into the soft underbelly of archers and infantry who had hoped to support them no doubt against a load of Arab horsemen.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Alexandrians have been surrounded and cut down piecemeal by the Khurasanian army, with their disjointed Death Stars failing to offer much more than token resistance against the combined arms approach of the Afghano-Persian forces tactical and strategic mobility.
The Indians have also paid a heavy price for splitting a potentially challenging line of different troops types, and the Dailami have simply swept them away whilst also opening a gap for Khurasanian troops to sneak in and loot Alexanders baggage.
The Alexandrian flank marks has arrived too late, too underpowered and has only managed to contribute to a single combat which the Indian Commander was almost certainly sure of winning alone anyway.
In the end, the list choice of the Khurasanians had been the right one, and aided in no small part by the unusual deployment of Alexanders resources Khurasan ran out the winner in the battle for Iran in the depths of the Indian jungles.
By now the pool area had sadly been denuded of local residents and holidaymakers auditioning for Italian Love Island, leaving only an increasingly well-occupied barman to cater for the steady stream of game-over wargamers filtering out into the warm evening sunlight to regale each other with stories of games won and lost, dice rolled and tossed out of the windows.
Even so, a bit of a paddle was in order - if only to make sure the Roman mosaic was still made out of real tiles all across the full width of the edge of the pool nearest the bar
That evening our well-planned Italian hosts laid on a sumptuous feast, with pasta, risotto, antipasti, and main courses enough to defeat even the most hardened curry-house warriors appetite over the course of an evening of free flowing wine and more wine.
Multiple prizes and raffles were awarded (including the winning of a Strategia et Tactica Miniatures unpainted army by yours truly...), much bonhomie was exchanged and good times were had by all as we stayed up as late as a bunch of old gits like all of us were physically capable of.
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
Wayy-ayye Man, ah had a greet day at th'office heor, ahnd my opponent certainly contributed by leaving things wiiiide open like, in fact so open was the enemy army that ah couldve driven a Kawasaki motorbike laden with taramasalata through the centre of the pitch like and no-one would have stopped me. A bit like when I chunter along on Match o'the'Day like, and the Lineker says nowt but just slowly shakes his heed.
Aa'd set up wor lads to take down a load of Pikemen, but there were nowt to see here, and with the enemy so thinly spread it turned out to be the ideal set of circumstances, an wi had everything in wor favour. To be honest like mah greatest feah heah was that my opponent was ditherin' and dallyin' like, and tekin' ages t'make his choices between a load of unpaletable decisions to such a degree that there was a risk of the referee blowin' his final whistle like when the home time signal goes off in the shipyards on a Freeday evening and everyone rushed home to get gannin oot.
Wor mates the Daaaaylaaami did alreet through here, ahnd giv that elephant on tha hill a reet good wallopin', ahnd his mates with the bows as well. With such huge amounts of terrain the horsemen in may ahrmy also might have struggled like, but they too got round the back, just like John Barnes says in that rap he does on World in Motion.
Aal in aal a reet grim time waz had by mi opponent, ahnd we picked up some decent points
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
My oh my, that was a strange battle - the type where a casula observer may fear that a hapless idiot such as you is missing a trick, and has been wrongfooted by a left-field plan from an unusually creative opponent - but instead his often protracted decision-making rather suggested that he had overthought things a little too much, and confused himself in the process.
So, the double-double-double cross was not to pass, and against a foe as simple minded as you perhaps such efforts would be doomed to failure anyway as you lack the imagination to be taken down such a mental path - and so, despite your fumbling attempts to split your forces and thus make your eventual victory rather harder than it in reality had any right to be you did manage to bring home the bacon, in a chicken-bacon sort of way of course.
As one who has made great fame for himself in marching elephants over mountains to appear unexpectedly I also do of course have some sympathy for your opponent, but it must be remembered that my genius was to bring an army over the hills and emerge where my opponent least expected it. Here your enemy attempted to hide a force which was as obvious as Obvious Jack McObvious's Massive Facial Wart, and then to divert half of the dangerous bits of it on a wild goose chase against just one of your horsemen. Whilst confusing, this alone was not nearly enough to wrongfoot your Dailami mountain men from their simplistic mission of advance and attack
Quite whether your next opponent will be as obliging is another question entirely - and one we will discover the answer to in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition