Ancients in Saumur 2016
Early Achaemenid Persian vs Franks
Summer in Saumer involves long warm evenings, a range of bars offering Stella Artois and vin rouge, and a social meal with the French and Spanish players in a restaurant with textbook tablecloths and textbook steak et frites. With a determined effort the thoughts of Brexapocalypse were forgotten for the evening and as the wine flowed Team Central London's attempts at speaking poor quality French increased exponentially ..... What's not to like ?!
Sunday was another sunny day, but this time the trip to the local boulangerie was achieved before it ran out of croissants and on the back of this hearty breakfast of champions the once-not-broken Persian army steeled itself and its exuberant trousers for a match against the locals - the Franks.
The lists for the Early Achaemenid Persian and Franks from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Saumur can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Franks are a solid wall of good quality warband type Impetuous Heavy Swordsmen, with some charging Cavalry and the excitement of some bowmen as well. Simple, but as seen in the second game, an army type which is more than capable of being very effective in L'Art de la Guerre
The terrain was more like Le Billiards rather than Le Camp du Bataille, with some irritating stuff on my half - partly my fault as I had tried to open some space for my in theory better Cavalry to do their stuff. The Persian army had set up with Cavalry, Greeks and Immortals and had stacked the table to their right... just to find that the Franks had done exactly the opposite. This would be a game of manoeuvre.. which was probably what I wanted, with much of the enemy army being unwieldy type.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - some troops cost more pips to do complicated moves like turns or moving short. Obvious stuff like Impetuous troops, elephants and the like. Certain types also lose more distance off their standard move distance when turning - Pikemen and Cataphracts - but can still do the moving-short stuff without any penalty. The theme of ADLG being a more subtle and less excessively-abstracted DBM continues to develop the more you play...
Moving first the Sparabara and Immortals succeeded with an excellent first pip roll, allowing them to sweep forwards carrying their wicker shields over their shoulders as they marched across the billiard plain and into the flank of the surprised Frenchmen.
Persia in Action
The Persian horse had a clear task of pinning the Franks back into their initial deployment area - a task which the Persian commander, as befits a brave and credible subject of his king, had tasked to two mercenaries - a Skythian bow armed horseman and a Greek Javelineer
What's Going on Here Then?
The Persians, emboldened by the previous game, have repeated an offset deplyment - possibly forced into it by the tricky terrain. They have started a process of turning the game through 90 degrees in an effort to wrongfoot the slow-moving Frankish warriors and have succeeded in putting a large force of Shooters on the Frankish flank.
The Immortals and Sparabara were soon deploying into a shooting line, tasking two of the Sparabara to go and find an enfilading position from which to set up their MG34-like bowfire to harass the Franks as they sought to cross the dead ground of an overworked WW2 metaphor and close to hand to hand distances with their bayonets and axes.
The sudden sweeping flanking move had left the Franks with the rather embarrassing situation of discovering that their Bowmen were in the pointy end of their combat formation - leaving room behind them for the slow-moving Frankish warriors to reorganise and redress their lines for a subsequent attack. The Persians however were also embarrassed, as their bowmen were certainly not keen to get close to the Frankish foot, and this left only 2 Thracians to go and deal with the Frankish bowmen.... yet again mercenaries were leading the line for Persia
With the LH now evaded out of the danger zone, the Franks mounted nobles were starting to see a possibility of charging some Persian and Median cavalry, whilst the Persian general considered whether there were any lame mathematical-based jokes he could use to involve references to the Medians and his own most probably evade distance should the Franks charge home.
Just rolling decent dice seemed like a better idea.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - non-impetuous troops who's targets evade can stop their charges after 1MU for foot, or 2MU for mounted if they wish. This means driving off evading skirmishers usually won't mess up your formation all that much.
The Thracians went in against the Frankish bowmen as the rest of the two armies squared up against each other. With the focus on both flanks the Greeks had managed to creep up onto a hill, overlooked by the active Persian generals and presumably now in a position in which their Armour and height advantage could partly offset the fact there were very, very few of them and very, very many of the Frankish warriors.
Chateauneuf du Pape! Persian arrows started to fall on the Franks across a broad frontage of the billiard pitch, the Thracians enjoyed a mixed first round of combat, blowing away one bowman but suffering a hit against the other - the Greeks had sent a unit down from the hill to help their fellow mercenaries.
The main body of Greeks were ready up the hill to fight off the disgusting trouser-wearing garlic-eaters sweeping towards them.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Franks have used the advantages of internal lines of command and control to redeploy into a coherent formation, aided by the Persians reluctance to attack with their admittedly weak in hand to hand combat Sparabara - the flanking move has however allowed shooting to be concentrated on the second string Frankish forces who now find themselves on the front lines. Frankish warriors are teeinig themselves up for a brave fight uphill into the Greeks, but their cavalry have been roundly and swiftly beaten by the Persians in the open plain.
The Franks were now in some semblance of proper formation, having painstakingly responded to the Persian redeployment, and were facing the classic dilemma of advancing under fire or halting to try and rally off some shooting hits. Pot Pourri!
Fromage frais! As the two lines closed on each other the shields of the Franks were in general proving a lot more effective than the bows of the Persians. It was only on the endmost unit that the archery was finding its mark, with a severely wounded Frankish warrior holding the end of the line.
Pictures of Franks and Goths from my Ancients Photo Directory
Mange tout! The Franks were, suddenly, and shockingly, in across the whole line!
Voila! Uphill advantage proved to be illusory for the shocked Greeks, who lost a unit and suffered multiple cohesion failures on the rest of their short line at first contact as the Furious Charge of the Frankish warriors proved extremely Furious.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Some troops have Furious Charge - this means they inflict an extra cohesion step loss if they win in the first round of melee
Bonnet de douche! With good dice in one pocket, the table was slanted against the Franks in another corner - against the Sparabara, and especially the Immortals, the Frankish infantry, somewhat weakened already by shooting, were faring considerably less well.
Bain Marie! The standout performance of the day was however the Frankish bow unit, which having lost both its supports was still doing better than just holding on against the Thracians - knocking them down to a 2-hits yellow marker!
The Sparabara converged on the remaining Frankish warrior like a plague of locusts... a plague that had deliberately chosen to ignore one other Frankish unit on the not-unreasonable basis that it moved glacially when turning so they probably had time to deal with it later...
For the Greeks however there was no "later" to be had. The mercenary force was wiped out by the ferocity of the Frankish infantry in a sequence of events that gave great heart to countless numbers of close formation FoG and Dbx warband languishing in file boxes and sets of storage draws up and down the continent of Europe.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Franks have smashed the Greeks in a brave frontal charge, but whilst this has been going in both of the Frankish flanks have suffered heavy attritional losses as the Persians wheel in and concentrate their firepower on the still somewhat squashed-together Franks. The redeployment has left weaker units in the front line and the Persians have capitalized on this well.
Finally the Frankish bowmen succumbed... but they had hung on long enough to allow their buddies, the proper full-fat Frankish Elite infantry time to arrive on the Thracians flank. This was now getting pretty tricky...
As the Franks, fresh from their Greek-obliterating excursion, flowed back down the hill to rejoin the main battle they were confronted with the unedifying sight of their Noble Horsemen being surrounded and mopped up by a tide of Persian mounted shooting. The Franks mounted wing had been all but destroyed, and by now the casualties on the rest of the army were starting to creep quickly upwards.
The Franks were looking at a last hurrah as they started to reform and regroup, forcing outwards from the central bastion their destruction of the Greeks had created. The hard-core heavy foot warriors were taking hits though as they started chewing into the flanks of the Persians and even as they threatened to make the Immortals destruction of the Frankish left wing a problem rather than a strategic opportunity, attrition and two eliminated flanks told. The Franks had been defeated on their home turf!
What's Going on Here Then?
The Franks have no flanks as the Persians mop up the remnants all across the front line. Pockets of Frankish bravery still remain, but enough of their forces have been beaten to condemn the home team to defeat.
The Result is a big win for Persia.
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 Early Achaemenid Persian Commander
How jolly super-diddly-duper! A proper game, in which I learnt things from the preceding games and then managed to put them into practice on this table. How amazing is that!
I do hope my Immortals have had time to shower after their frenetic efforts to run across all of those open fields. A good hot soak and some body oil is definitely needed I find after such exertions, and to think that they also managed to keep accurate with their shooty shooty stuff, and also found time to do a bit of stabby-wabby fighting too!
Really though, this was one of the first times I've really tried to do something a little bit different, and to do so in the knowledge of the way the enemy troops would perform. Otherwise a repeat of that horrible running-over game 2 was on the cards - and no-one wants to be knocked down and battered by a hairy barbarian too many times in one weekend, do they?
I think I may be getting the hang of this
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What a shambles - how close did you honestly come to defeat here against an enemy who was almost structurally incapable of even the most basic of turns or wheels?
What happened to the outflanking move for starters? You spend innumerable pips to move your men into a position in which... the enemy were able to turn, reform and then march straight towards you in a solid line? How is that a clever move? You should have pressed the advantage, but the lack of proper troops in that command to support the bowmen meant that two Thracians were left to do the heavy lifting.
And lets not talk about the Greeks. They were not unlucky - they were a 3-wide block faced by a 6-wide enemy and they suffered the inevitable consequences. They were lucky to last long enough to get into two photos - that's how bad things were for them.
I suppose I should have grudging respect for your ability to not just line up and wait for stuff to happen, but as I can see how I would have done much better, that respect is withdrawn and I expect it to be gone shortly after the beginning of the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition