Ancients in Saumur 2016
Early Achaemenid Persian vs Pyrrhic
Game 5, 2 wins, a loss and a draw. Not entirely a bad place to be in the hunt for respectability in a 5-round event. Lunch was accompanied by another scoot around the epic series of sheds that made up the Saumur Musee de Blindes and another couple of interesting pork rillette sandwiches as well. Good preparation for the final match, against a neat-textbook Persian opponent - the Greeks.
The lists for the Early Achaemenid Persian and Pyrrhic 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.
Greeks - its Pikemen, Its Spears, Its Elephants and its a few Companion-type cavalry. Tough frontally, not that wide, but all good.
Voila! The Greeks had deployed with a very solid front, with the first sighting of exotic elephants in the centre and a small mounted force on their left, my right. With little terrain to block up the table the Persians had stacked their deployment to one side, hoping to wrongfoot some of the Greek pikemen and keep they out of the game whilst the Persian horse achieved something spectacular and the Sparabara and Immortals prayed to avoid combat.
Creme de la menthe! The best way to avoid combat was to sit in a field of pre-EU-subsidy rapeseed that dominated the middle of the table - this would be very tricky terrain for close formation infantry to get the Persians out of.
Pot Pourri! The Persian were pretty much set for the day, giving the Persian general plenty of scope to invest pips and command capability in sending forward several units of skirmishers who all shared one aim - harass the enemy elephants!
The plan was clear - shoot the heffalump with anything that comes to hand.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Elephants can take 3 hits before exploding, but uniquely they cannot be rallied once they have taken hits. This makes it really important to keep them protected from enemy skirmishers and shooters as you bring them forward, as one un-rallyable hit is a big dent on a 3-hit beastie.
The Elephants were competently supported by Elite Hypaspists as they advanced, but even so they were advancing into a wall of shooting. Their skirmish screen was being ablated turn by turn as the Persian line got closer and closer... Fromage frais!
What's Going on Here Then?
The Persians have succesfully gotten the Sparabara and Immortals into the tactically important field, making it difficult for the Greeks to use their powerful close formation pikemen against them - the Greeks respond by throwing forward their elephants, who can negotiate the terrain and engage the Persian bowmen. Persian Cavalry can see they outnumber their Greek counterparts and are advancing rapidly to engage them, leaving the Greek Mercenaries with the hapless task of making a delaying action in the centre to buy time for the Cavalry outflanking move to do its worst to the Greek army's flank
Straight in! Chateauneuf du Pape!The extravagantly painted elephants trampled their way over the wicker pavises of the Persians and started rolling serious dice against the weak centre of the Oriental line. This could, and would be decisive one way or another pretty quickly!
Hypaspists broke through the half-hearted Persian resistance, as troops who did not want to fight hand to hand came up against troops who had been hand-picked for their excellence in just such close quarters combat. But, crucially, the Elephants were struggling, and picking up markers which would stay forever ...
Greeks at war
With the excitement in the middle it was an effort to force attention to another part of the battlefield - but on the right the Persian mounted command had found something to shoot at - a much smaller force of Companion-style cavalry who they gleefully sough to overlap and pepper with mounted bowfire. The Persians left flank was covered by the Greeks, who had advanced to a hopeful standoff against the Greeks central spear and phalanx line. Mange tout!
What's Going on Here Then?
The Persians are engaged on the right flank and have gotten behind the smaller Greek mounted force, putting this wing under huge pressure as shooting fallls on the Greeks from all sides. The Mercenary Spearmen are so far holding up OK, and the small force of Elephants is starting to suffer losses that cannot be recovered as it chews it's way through the resilient Persians, having already taken some losses from shooting on the way in.
Bain Marie! The Elephants were starting to struggle as the Sparabara refused to lay down and act like Mediocre troops in the face of waving trunks - with extra bases in play the Immortals were also able to begin to be brave, and moved up to face off against the other Hypaspist unit. LF shot and skirmished against each other in the margins as the real battle went on around them
Bonnet de douche! Elephant Breakthrough! Inevitably, Mediocrity always finds a way....
The Persian horse braced themselves and took a charge from the irritatingly un-shot-up Greeks... but, they survived the initial round with relatively few bad things happening to them, leaving the Greeks having already deployed their most effective Impact-round advantage and now finding themselves outflanked and with Persian LH in their rear areas!
With the Sparabara line crumbling, the Thracians arrived to save the day - plugging gaps in the line they helped finish off both Elephants (who, irritatingly, "Rampaged" directly into one another and caused no collateral damage in the process). Suddenly the Hypaspists looked in danger of being swamped!
The Greeks were still clearly suffering a hangover from their previous game, and had developed somewhat of a phobia when it came to putting up a god fight against enemy Heavy Infantry. A "straight to red" combat was not ideal for a command who had an embedded General also engaged in combat ...
Greeks at war
But, all the Greeks had to do was hang on a little longer, as on their right flank the Persian cavalry were already into mopping-up mode against the shattered dregs of the not-quite-big-enough Greek cavalry wing.
The rapeseed oil plant field was thinking of applying for a role in the American Civil War, as waves of combatants from both sides swept through it in all directions, turning onto each other and unleashing volleys that would not have disgraced the regiments of the Army of the Potomac several thousand years later at each other.
Pictures of Greeks from my Ancients Photo Directory
The Greek left flank was gone, and now Greek infantry found themselves facing the unusual prospect of having to chase enemy cavalry, when really they simply wanted to plough forward and smack headlong into other proper infantry.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Persians are now rolling up the Greek flank, although the Mercenary Spearmen are doing a pretty good job on their own to be fair. The carnage in the cornfield has left both sides battered and losing units, but it has also kept a slice of the Greek Phalanx out of the game for many turns, and with one command effectively left unengaged by the swift Persian mounted attack and defensive use of terrain by the Sparabara the weight of numbers has counted for the Persians and their allies as the Greeks slip towards defeat.
The Persian Greeks were using their Armour to hang on in there against the bulk of the Greek Greek infantry as the Persians started to inexorably stove in both flanks. As the Persians reorganised themselves for what they hoped would be two final pushes they took the opportunity to rally off some hits too before joining combat again against the Greek flanks.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - - the overall game score is based on relative losses, so it's sometimes worth rallying your troops simply to eke out a few extra points in the final reckoning.
Either the Persian Greeks were gaining encouragement from the successes they could see on both flank, or the Greek Greeks were losing heart as they saw inevitability close its noose on their necks. The Allied Mercenary general led the way and two holes were blown in the Greek Greek centre, taking down their army in the process....
The Result is a decisive win for Persia!
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
Well, golly gosh my spotty trousers, that was satisfying! Yet again I manage to avoid losing my own army, and it seems like the happy little skirt-wearing chappies from the land of Ouzo and Retsina were obliging and rolled over to have their tummies tickled by my lovely laddies here.
Those pretty elephants were fascinating to see, and the image of a tattooed big grey trunk waving in my face is not something I will forget in many a lunar year, but luckily for me they seem to be not that resilient and now I will have two new sets of elephants-feet-shaped footstools to use on my patio when me and the boys have our next wine and massage evening.
What else was good was the way in which my saddle-sore horsemen were able to stand up to the nasty smelly Greeks in combat. A round of bowfire to the temples will tend to put you off lancing and lurching, and so it proved in this game. All in all a very happy weekend in a country that seems so lovely I am inclined to see if I can invade it and bring it into my own pan-Eurasian common market trading zone with broadly unified political control that still allows my Satraps a reasonable degree of regional independence.
Onwards and upwards for these superb rules!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You mealy-mouthed foppish Asiatic wastrel, how could you fail to mention that in this game you benefitted greatly from the unreliability of one of the Greek Generals ? This kept a whole slab of pikemen out of the game for the first few rounds and was in all probability the cause of the wild elephant charge, as there was nought more the Greeks could do other than sit and be shot at.
Here you chanced many combats, especially your over-small Greek ally, who was woefully un-wide when it came to a plan which required an overlapped set of pedestrians to hold back most of the Greek army long enough for your horsemen to get lucky on one flank.
This has been a long weekend, and it is only the impressive amount of armoured vehicles which surrounded the gaming spaces which have kept my attention, as your random movements were more befitting movements of the bowels rather than movements of a Great Captain. I think you have a good future as a coward who will run away - but as a victorious general you can only claim luck in 3 games out of 5 as a skill.
That's the end - so why not go back to the Match Reports Index and read some more reports?